The Big Question: 2024 so far?

This month we’re asking retailers: How has 2024 been for your business so far?

Martin Lukehurst​​​​ – Lukehurst

2024 appears to be challenging. Lukehurst’s as a company had a reasonable January, probably bucking the trend, with a small increase on the previous year. However, I think in common with the majority. February has been very tough, with a significant decrease in orders taken. February takings we’re on a similar level to the year before but the decrease in sales will impact in the next couple of months. March has been marginally better than February but awful weather and local road closures has impacted business. We have run a bed promotion in conjunction with bed month, which has improved sales, particularly at our Rainham high street location. As a result of increases in utility bills and the imminent rise in the national wage, we have looked to increase our margins in an effort to manage the impending price rises. 2024 will continue to be a challenge.

Grant Berry – Home World – Mattress & Bed Centres

2024 so far as been hot & cold with sales. We’ve had some really good weeks then a couple of really quiet weeks. Quite extreme the difference in the change from busy to quiet. It would be the best-selling book ever if you good explain why it goes like this now & then. I don’t think the threat of a General Election helps, people subconsciously sit on their hands when there’s a General Election, even though their day to day lives won’t change for a year or two no matter who gets elected. We’ve dropped two suppliers that were late with deliveries and moved to better suppliers that deliver quickly.

Huw Williams – Toons Home Furnishers

We have had quite a good year so far with us running in excess of 6% above budget and over 10% up yoy. In the last three weeks we have definitely seen a slowdown in the market as the cost-of-living issues bite. I think consumers are starting to feel punch drunk as a tsunami of significant cost increases have hit home in March such as Christmas credit card bills, water bills, car insurance, council tax, car tax etc. Let’s hope this is a temporary hiccup and not the start of a trend!

Sarah Bianchi – Arighi Bianchi

“We continue to navigate a market undergoing an exponential pace of change and we remain optimistic, as we continue to invest in growth. Our strategic plan involves leveraging brand, investing in technology and driving new, multi-sector brand partnerships, to enhance the customer experience and adapt to a continuing shift in consumer demands. We know that retailers need to look beyond the realms of the sector to understand and adapt to how consumers are making spending choices. This is of infinite importance within the furniture sector, where repeat purchase takes place on average, every five years. Therefore, delivering a customer experience which is perfectly on point, is vital. At Arighi Bianchi, our focus is intent on delivering an enhanced, multi-channel customer experience, delivering a curated retail, dining and lifestyle experience too.”

Amthal Karim – Furniture And Choice

In the current economic climate, we’re noticing that customers are browsing around for the best deals more than ever before they make their purchase. It seems there is a demand for good value, high quality furniture that will last longer – as opposed to the more ‘fast-fashion’ approach which had started to take hold before the Pandemic.

Nick Collard – Bensons for Beds

“Five months into the new financial year and in an external market which remains challenging, we continue to make progress, and our performance remains in line with our expectations. For the remaining months of the financial year, we remain focused on those factors in our control; store number growth, investment in colleague training, product innovation and digital capability.”

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