What do retailers hope to see from Presidents Day weekend sales?


HIGH POINT — While 2023 has gotten off to a promising start for many in the home furnishings retail world, retailers are hopeful that continues as they approach Presidents Day, the first major sales weekend of the year.

Gone are the halcyon days of 2021, and in its place, consumers have reverted to their cadence of shopping on weekends and during holidays. Those factors bode well for this sales weekend.

Kyle Deets, Deets Furniture
Kyle Deets

“I would call it steady. We’re seeing good traffic, but it’s shifting more toward the weekends, which is getting back to a traditional traffic pattern,” said Kyle Deets, vice president of Norfolk, Neb.-based Deets Furniture. “Weekends and holiday traffic seem to be higher than it had been this past summer and fall. Margin is a little tougher to gain. Margin is getting a little more pressure, but overall we’re seeing good traffic, and it’s off to a pretty decent start.”

Deets said his family’s operation is expecting a good Presidents Day weekend based on recent traffic and sales. “All indicators seem to say that should happen. I guess we’ll see how the chips fall when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Deets said financing offers continue to be a big driver, and he expects those incentives to be strong business generators during the holiday weekend.

“Making it a bit more affordable and finding solutions that they want and need. That’s a big driver for us, and we’ll continue to offer that as that’s what the customer is looking for lately,” he said.

Alex Wright, Wright's
Alex Wright

In Dieterich, Ill., Wright’s Furniture & Flooring is also off to a good start in 2023, although Marketing Director Alex Wright noted that it’s more than furniture as the retailer sells flooring and does commercial work.

Wright said that while a lot of traffic has reverted to more traditional norms, Wright’s is still getting its share of customers most weekends.

“I think it will be strong. Prices are definitely up, but people are still buying. This past weekend, we didn’t have any promotions, but it was a big weekend without any sales or events going on,” he said. “I think a lot of people are asking when our next sale is; the demand is there, and people are waiting for a reason to buy.”

Wright’s will be offering deals from La-Z-Boy and Tempur-Pedic, among others. The retailer is also having a little tongue-in-cheek fun with an advertising campaign around everybody’s favorite president, Benjamin Franklin (they know Franklin’s not actually a president).

“We’re trying something a little different this year. We’re doing a promotion that if you spend $1,000, you earn everybody’s favorite president, Franklin, on a $100 bill,” Wright said. “We’re going to put a fun spin on it: On the ‘non-Presidents’ Day, you earn a Benjamin Franklin. On the radio ad, we’ll learn that he wasn’t a president.”

Paige Streiff
Paige Streiff

Paige Streiff, owner of Ashley stores in the Victoria, Texas, area, is also using a gift as a way to draw a crowd over the holiday weekend.

“Presidents Day is going to be big for our bedding business,” she said. “With so much competition in our space, how do we differentiate our space? Why Ashley?

“We decided it’s going to be a free vacation with purchase of a mattress set. The guest doesn’t have to choose between going somewhere this summer or getting a good night’s sleep. They get both.”

ashley presidents day ad

So far this year, Streiff said she hasn’t had to appeal to draw a crowd. Traffic is up, sales are up, and the average ticket is up the most, so she’s expecting another solid weekend of sales.

“I think we’ll be flat or slightly up from last year,” she said. “The deciding factor is going to be our free gift with purchase. That’s going to be our why. Another important part is our in-stock status. We have a much better position of in-stock, so there’s that instant gratification for immediate delivery.”

robert van hoose 2021
Robert Van Hoose

Robert Van Hoose, CEO of Top 100 retailer Big Sandy Superstore, said conveying value is important in today’s retail environment, and those stores who do so will be in the best shape this weekend and beyond.

“The consumer is a little more discriminating; they’re looking for value. You have to figure out how to communicate compelling value to them, but when you do they respond,” Van Hoose said. “Traffic is down, but the close rate is up. The average ticket is running same or better.”

One reason Van Hoose is optimistic is that the retailer’s advertising is hitting the right audience, largely because it’s more digital than ever.

“A key to our success is the use of more digital. The people who are still running the majority of their marketing in traditional media are going to see weaker comps,” he said. “Facebook, OTT (streaming) and Google is where we’re getting the best ROIs on our marketing expense. That’s well over 50% of our budget.”

Van Hoose is hopeful that Big Sandy can see a high-single to low double-digit increase over 2022’s Presidents Day. Big Sandy has already started its sale, but he said the weekend remains the best and that the stores always have something going on. “We have a key promotion every weekend,” he said.

Jeff Godby
Jeff Godby

In the greater Indianapolis area, Jeff Godby, owner of Godby Home Furnishings is banking on a big Presidents Day.

“President’s Day is going to be very important for us. It’s becoming the third-biggest holiday behind Labor Day and Memorial Day. This is one of the bigger ones to give an indication as to how the rest of the year will go,” Godby said, noting that 2023 is off to a solid start.

godby pres day sale feature image
Presidents Day advertising for Godby Home Furnishings

Godby noted it’s important to keep in mind that a shopper who visits the store is much more likely to take something home than they might have been prior to the pandemic.

“I feel like since the pandemic and even through now, they’re not kicking tires. If they’re in here, they’re going to buy furniture from somebody somewhere today,” he said. “We take every opportunity very seriously. The close ratios are much higher than they used to be.”

Godby will be offering long-term financing or a percentage off the final price, as well as a hot recliner buy from La-Z-Boy, all of which has been pretty heavily advertised. Godby is hopeful that when it’s over, this Presidents Day shows a nice increase.

“My goal is to be 5% to 10% above last year. That’ll be strong. Last year and the year before were strong compared with 2019,” he said. “If we look at 2019, we’re dramatically ahead of where we were then. We’re in a high-growth area in central Indiana. We’re in affluent suburbs, and things are going well here economically.”

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