How did Presidents Day stack up at retail? Here’s how 5 stores fared

HIGH POINT — Many home furnishings retailers were optimistic heading into Presidents Day, as 2023 has been off to a solid start. Did the good times keep rolling through the first tentpole holiday of the year?

Jeff Godby
Jeff Godby

“It went really well. (Monday), actually we beat last year’s numbers, and last year was huge,” said Jeff Godby, owner of Noblesville, Ind.-based Godby Home Furnishings. “It was a good day. We do a Friday through Monday, and we were almost exactly the same as last year, numbers-wise.”

Godby said bedding sales were strong throughout the holiday, and he’s seeing an increased appetite for custom upholstery, which he said is a welcome return. He noted that, by and large, lead times for custom pieces are back to where they were pre-pandemic.

“The special-order upholstery category seems to be back,” Godby said. “There for a while, people were just buying what we had. I feel a little change going on, and the numbers bear it out. We are special ordering more again.

“We’re almost back to pre-pandemic proportions of special orders to in-stock. We like to do both,” he continued. “We like to have a good amount of what you see on the floor ready to go, but we also like to give people the option to special order.”

robert van hoose 2021
Robert Van Hoose

Furniture sales for Top 100 retailer Big Sandy Superstore were up 9% over 2022, according to CEO Robert Van Hoose, which fell in line with the retailer’s expectations. He noted that stationary upholstery, motion upholstery and adult bedroom were all solid performers over the weekend. He said traffic was down a little, but closing rates and average ticket were both up.

“We had good comps going into the weekend,” Van Hoose said. “We’re positive for the month, but it’s constantly coming up with a compelling reason to buy. You can’t just say, ‘We’re having a sale, come see us.’

“The consumer is in the mindset that they want value, and their mindset is there’s always a sale on holidays,” he continued. “There are people who put off buying until the actual holiday weekend. You’ve got to constantly be giving them a reason to buy, or they’ll wait until they do see one.”

When consumers were in the stores, Van Hoose said Big Sandy RSAs asked them about what prompted them to visit. “We always ask, ‘How did you hear about our sale?’ and Facebook was the No. 1 response. There’s a lot of Google and a lot of streaming, but Facebook was the dominant answer.”

Alex Wright, Wright's
Alex Wright

Upholstery and mattresses were winners for Wright’s Furniture and Flooring in Dieterich, Ill., as well. Alex Wright, the retailer’s director of marketing, pointed to good things from mattresses as well as Flexsteel and La-Z-Boy.

He said Wright’s had a good weekend all the way around, but he doesn’t think he should read too much into it.

“It’s hard to say anymore. Comparing it with the past two years, it was probably flat; but the past two years were record-breaking years, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “The sky hasn’t fallen. The way some people are worried about the next 12 months, I’d say nothing terrible has happened yet. We’re going to keep moving forward and keep selling furniture.”

Paige Streiff
Paige Streiff

In Victoria, Texas, qualified bedding purchases during Presidents Day earned some Ashley shoppers a free trip. That proved to be a hit, said owner Paige Streiff.

“The big winner of the weekend was bedding, as I knew it was going to be. We were up 154%, and our balance of share was 40%. That’s the highest it’s ever been over a holiday weekend,” Streiff said. “Beyond the numbers of it, our premium categories were up 125% with Tempur and 107% with Purple. The vacation was tied to a minimum purchase, so any time (customers) bought $1,499 and above, they got the vacation.”

Streiff said her Ashley stores saw an increase in traffic of about 18%, sales volume up 66%, and the average ticket was up by $500.

Kyle Deets, Deets Furniture
Kyle Deets

Another store that saw better than average performance was Deets Furniture in Norfolk, Neb. Vice President Kyle Deets compared it with the past three years and said it blew them all out of the water.

“It was very strong. We saw above-normal traffic and above-normal sales. It was actually our best Presidents Day weekend ever,” he said. “We saw high double-digit growth. I was comping ‘21, ‘22 and ’20, and it was significantly above each of those three years.”

Deets said shoppers were interested in a little bit of everything. “I think the financing thing was a big part of that, but we saw a really well-rounded sales period. It wasn’t all mattresses or furniture. It was a nice blend and healthy mix of everything,” he said.

And while one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a solid holiday sales weekend, Deets said that, based on how 2023 has kicked off and with the first big sale of the year is in the books, he’s feeling pretty good about the road ahead.

“I think it sets the tone for the rest of the year,” he said. “There’s obviously a lot that can factor into that. As we’ve seen gas prices go down, the consumer is starting to get their feet underneath them.

“For our market and what we’re doing here, I feel strong and bullish as we head into 2023. Cautiously optimistic is my mantra here.”

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