The High Point Market Authority will postpone the April furniture market until “early June, should conditions improve.”
The decision, announced at 6 p.m. EDT today, followed by less than two hours a new recommendation by the state of North Carolina “that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services.”
The reason cited was concern about the spread of COVID-19.
Cancellations have spread faster than the virus. Earlier today, the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament, which had returned to nearby Greensboro for the first time since 2015, was abruptly halted halfway through its five-day run. Professional sports leagues and even college basketball’s March Madness are all sidelined.
Few single events, however, approach the scope and impact of the furniture market, both for the industry and for the state and local economy.
‘Tremendous economic repercussions’
“The decision was difficult, as any change in date could have tremendous economic repercussions on our industry and community, as well as the countless small businesses whose livelihoods rely on High Point Market, but underscores our shared concern and well-being of the citizens in our community and our industry partners,” Dudley Moore Jr., chairman of the High Point Market Authority’s board of directors and president of Otto & Moore, said in a news release.
The High Point Market dates back to 1909. This is the first cancellation since 1942, during World War II.
But the idea that the April market could continue as scheduled looked increasingly untenable as travel restrictions mounted and public fears grew. On Wednesday, manufacturing group American Leather Holdings announced that American Leather and Lee Industries would withdraw because of COVID-19 concerns. Earlier today, just 24 hours after seeking more participants, Premarket organizers canceled that show, which was to begin Monday. The market authority had declared it would stick with April plans, stating on Tuesday: “We have not been advised to cancel or postpone, and thus we will continue to make preparations to open as scheduled on April 25.”
HFA will be a resource at all future markets
Today, that was no longer the case.
The state did not issue a directive, but Gov. Roy Cooper was clear: “We believe the people of North Carolina, the businesses of North Carolina, will abide by these guidelines,” he said late this afternoon. The High Point Market Authority did.
The Home Furnishings Association, which offers educational seminars and many resources for furniture retailers at each market, will do so in June in High Point, if the event can be held then, and at Las Vegas Market July 26-30.
“Our aim is to have a decision in early May as to if market can occur (in June), given the uncertainties of this rapidly evolving situation,” High Point Market Authority President and CEO Tom Conley said.
HFA offers COVID-19 information here.