Inflation? Drop in demand? Outdoor Furniture Suppliers Don’t Care
Hanamint’s new Cascade Deep Seating collection is ultra-modern and features low-back seating. The design was a departure for the company, which typically specializes in more ornate looks.
CHICAGO — Outdoor furniture suppliers were largely bullish at Casual Market Chicago last week in Chicago, seemingly oblivious to inflation plaguing many sectors of the economy.
“It’s been a big deal for us so far, and we expect it to continue for the rest of the week,” Telescope Casual Furniture vice president Bill Vanderminden said at noon Tuesday, the first day of the show. “We may be seeing a slight slowdown in some areas of retail, but there is still pent-up demand.”
The Telescope showroom was buzzing. The company unveiled the 1960s-inspired Welles collection for the living room, which includes a three-seater sofa, an armchair, an oval coffee table and a round side table.
Vanderminden says the company’s backlog remains strong. “We have a big backlog, but retailers want to be in a good position and keep ordering. It always feels like we’re playing catch-up. We’ll probably feel that way for at least another year.
He said supply issues still exist, but aren’t as severe for Telescope as for others.
“We manufacture everything in upstate New York and are largely self-sufficient,” Vanderminden said. “Making in the US gives us a big advantage because we have price stability. Product from Asia is unpredictable.
Luxury outdoor resource Hanamint said that while business is down slightly, it is more of a return to normal.
“The past two years have been exceptionally good,” said Russel Sorenson, president of the company. “But it’s nothing dramatic. We are just getting back to a normal cycle.
In terms of design, Sorenson said he sees customers moving towards simpler, cleaner designs and away from more ornate looks.
He said that Hanamint will continue to create ornate products as it continues to sell well, but will venture into simpler products. The company presented five new collections for the show, encompassing both looks.
Premium brand Mamagreen was also optimistic, although less so than others.
“I think business will continue to do well in the United States but not in Europe,” CEO Vincent Cantaert said. “War and inflation hurt Europe more.”
Mamagreen unveiled five new collections covering both residential and contract for the show. It also added items to existing lines and expanded its material options.
Cantaert said supply issues were improving, especially with material suppliers. He also thinks high-end and luxury brands like Mamagreen won’t be as affected by worsening inflation.
Mid- to high-end brand and teak specialist Three Birds Casual was perhaps the most positive. On Tuesday afternoon, the first day of the show, company president Tad Varga said the company had already placed several orders.
“Demand is still on fire,” he said. “Inventory is underway for many products. The only problem is the ports.
Three Birds hasn’t released anything new for the show, but says a new product is on the way, with new counter-height seating set to be introduced at the next market. The company sources its furniture from a factory in Indonesia. All its items are made of teak wood.
Patio furniture supplier OW Lee said business was good, but a decline is ahead.
“Demand is still high, but we’ve noticed a decline over the past four to six weeks,” said Leisa Rogers McCollister, vice president of marketing. “Seasonality is coming back. The fall is normal.
The company has introduced a new porcelain tile table to its Avana collection for the living room. McCollister said delivery times are long and the backlog is large.
“We moved from California to Texas during the pandemic,” McCollister said. “It was difficult to recruit staff and to be operational. But now we manufacture everything from our 400,000 square foot facility in Comfort, TX.
Umbrella specialist Franklin introduced five new fabric colors for the show, bringing its total offering to 30. It also introduced a new frame finish, now offering eight in total. Everything ships from the company’s New Jersey warehouse in four to six weeks.
“It’s been a great market,” said Laura Dudley, National Sales Manager. “Very crowded. Demand is still high and still higher than last year, but we are seeing new orders starting to slow.”
National provider Woodard echoed much the same. The company had several market introductions, including an extendable table that seats four to six and the “bulky but lightweight” Latitude table.
“Demand is still strong,” said senior vice president of sales Perry Solomon. “We are not seeing a slowdown yet. Supply is difficult but improving. Most of the problems are in the ports.
Finally, luxury brand Castelle unveiled its new Korda collection, made of a combination of cast iron and aluminum hand-painted to look like wood.