Focus 100 Retail - November 2013
By Darius Helm
The vast majority of the top 100 retailers and residential contractors report solid growth this year, making 2013 the healthiest year for the sector since the housing wave crashed in 2006. Years of plummeting sales followed, and those retailers that didn’t sink struggled against a crowd of competitors to stay afloat in the shallower waters of the diminished residential market.
Finally, the water is rising. Home starts and sales are up, unemployment is down (marginally), housing inventory rates are falling and mortgages remain low—and for the first time in seven years retailers and residential contractors are in a position to really grow their businesses organically. The Top 100 averaged double digit growth. However, most of the players on the list are market leaders—they’re at the top of their game, they’re diverse, and they’re not scared to invest—so their performance is not representative of the overall retail floorcovering business. It’s likely that retailers on average will report mid single digit 2013 growth.
Arguably the most promising aspect of this year’s business has been the sustained, steady pace of revenue growth among both contractors and retailers. It’s been so long that a lot of people have forgotten what it feels like to have a strong economy, but what’s happening now feels a little like that. Over the last few years, in fits and starts, the flooring industry has been moving into positive territory, but the most significant turn in the road has come this year, in the form of the steady widespread growth.
However, some retailers are reporting that fourth quarter sales may not be as vigorous—it’s a slower quarter in general—because consumer confidence seemed to react to the partisan battles in Washington, D.C. Speculation about everything from the impact of the Affordable Care Act to the potential repercussions from the government shutdown and the threat of default on national debt seemed to create a pause here and there in consumer spending on big ticket items.
The reaction to this political battle will likely shed some light on the inherent health of the economy. A stable economy is like a stable climate, with a natural movement toward equilibrium, and prevailing weather conditions outlast the storms that come and go. Though the U.S. economy might have been destabilized from an actual default on national debt, it would be reassuring to know that it can survive the fear of a default.
For the complete story of the Top 100 Retailers, see the November 2013 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.
Copyright 2012 Floor Focus