Despite Challenges, Good News Abounds

greg sleterThe retail news the first few weeks of 2017 has been less than rosy as reports of soft sales, store closures and even a bankruptcy filing have dominated the headlines.

While product suppliers throughout the housewares industry closely watch Sears continue to fight for survival and Macy’s and J.C. Penney hit the reset button as each shrink their respective store counts, there is also some positive news.

Take J.C. Penney. While the Plano, TX-based retailer is shutting some 140 stores, home has been a silver lining. During an investor conference call that was dominated by store closures and the challenging retail environment, Marvin Ellison, J.C. Penney’s chairman/CEO, also noted that the retailer’s home refresh has provided strong results and positive comps.

He also noted that J.C. Penney would be adding approximately 100 new appliance showrooms during the early part of the year with additional brands expected to be in the mix.

Ellison’s former employer, The Home Depot, has also been on the rise having recently reported a 6.3% increase in comparable store sales for its U.S. stores. Continued growth at this level could be a boon to housewares suppliers as the home improvement retailer has been working aggressively over the past several months to expand its housewares assortment.

Others, including TJX and Ulta continued their respective streaks of strong sales growth, with the latter reporting a robust 16.6% increase in comparable store sales for its fourth quarter.

And I haven’t even mentioned Amazon, which continues to do what Amazon does.

So while several big name retailers work to improve their fiscal health, the news is not all bad. And for many chains, home and housewares may prove to be the elixir to what ails them.