The Home Furnishings Association has joined other furniture industry groups to form the Alliance4Safety. The initiative provides a roadmap for businesses to operate safely during a pandemic.
“From the beginning of this crisis, we have stressed to government leaders at all levels that home furnishings retailers sell products that are essential to the comfort and well-being of Americans spending more time in their homes,” said Mark Schumacher, executive vice president of the HFA. “We also made it clear that furniture stores operate safely for their customers and employees. Whether a company manufactures, imports, designs, sells or delivers home furnishings, it contributes to better living and work-at-home spaces, provides good jobs and supports communities all across our country.”
A key industry partner, the American Home Furnishings Alliance, canvassed furniture manufacturers, retailers and delivery companies to determine their best practices for maintaining safe operations. This information was combined with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Small Business Administration, local departments of health and furniture industry consultants to develop a comprehensive guide for keeping industry workers:
- Safe at the factory door.
- Safe on the factory floor.
- Safe in the store.
- And safe in the customer’s home.
Alliance website contains helpful information
A new website, Alliance4Safety.org, is designed to assist businesses in all segments of the industry in developing and implementing the right responses for their companies and communities when faced with a serious public health crisis.
In addition to HFA and AHFA, the alliance is supported by the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association, the International Casual Furnishings Association and the Specialized Furniture Carriers.
“In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the home furnishings industry learned useful and effective ways to manage the spread of infection during a pandemic,” said AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “Companies learned new ways to monitor employees’ health, how to manage executives working from home, how to socially distance production workers in our factories and how to serve retail customers while minimizing physical interactions.”
The industry also learned that when containing a virus results in community shutdown, the cost of that shutdown – measured in lost jobs, lost income, lost tax revenue and massive expenditures at all levels of government – is crippling.
“That’s why we decided to act now, before we face any new shutdowns,” Counts said.
The Alliance4Safety website emphasizes that the most important component of operating a home furnishings business during a health crisis is operating safely – not meeting an arbitrary definition of “essential.”
HFA says that furniture stores are essential
The HFA has continually pointed out that furniture stores are safe and essential. They are uniquely equipped to provide social distancing in showrooms and implement other safety measures. Stores also can engage with shoppers digitally and schedule appointments for in-store shopping and consultations.
At the same time, furniture stores do sell essential products. Those include appliances, beds, home office furnishings, lift chairs and many other products necessary for American families to live, work and study comfortably at home.
The alliance website is designed to help companies convey the “Safe=Essential” message to government and health officials. All participating associations agreed this unified message from the industry was necessary before the fall flu season and any future containment actions by federal, state or local authorities. Companies throughout the industry are urged to share the Allliance4Safety “Safe=Essential” message with policymakers in their states and local communities.
“Share it with decision-makers at your Chamber of Commerce and economic development agency. Share it with your local media,” said Counts. “We drafted a Sample Letter to make it easy, and companies are urged to customize it with details on their unique business operations.”
Additional Alliance4Safety tools are available to the industry, including a sample press release for local media outlets and downloadable graphics, including store or factory signage, and alliance logos.
Not a member of the HFA? Join today and add your voice to ours!