On my 30th wedding anniversary eight years ago, my wife gave me a bracelet engraved with one of my favorite motivation phrases: finish strong. I apply that to my life as a whole and my work. I bring this up because we all need to finish 2022 strong. It has been quite a year thus far.
Coming out of a record 2021, we knew ’22 would be softer, but few could have predicted all the twists and turns to shape this year. The economy took a sharp dip. Home sales started to flatten out thanks to climbing interest rates. Inflation, which our industry many months before the word became common in everyone’s vocabulary, now rocked US families. Your customers worry about the cost of food and gas, which means less focus on purchases like furniture. Furniture sales slowed way down. It’s been tough.
There’s more. The recovering supply chain has been threatened by rail strikes and work stoppages at some ports, not to mention threats of slowdowns from truck drivers. Globally we started the year relatively balanced, and then war broke out in Ukraine, and everything changed. US-Chinese relations are not in a great spot right now with the acrimony over Taiwan. It makes me wonder about the stability of factory output in that region. Store traffic is down, yet we’ve seen bursts of solid sales like the Labor Day weekend. We’ve seen some retailers go out of business and others open new stores and flourish. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
We now approach the last furniture market of the year, and while there is more and new product available, we know that the attendees will still be well off 2019 numbers. Yes, those showing up are there to do business and buy; however, it is still uncomfortable. It’s just not how it used to be and may never get back there.
All that I have described is the hand we have been dealt. There is no opportunity to draw new cards, so we can fold or play the hand. I believe the best way to do that is to stay focused and on track. It is continuing to exhibit the behaviors that got you through 2020 and all of the disharmony caused by COVID. Even in the most chaotic and stressful moments, hit the pause switch and think about the things you have done to remain successful that have sustained you and your business. Double down on those behaviors. That’s how we finish strong.