follow us

Casually Speaking

Cinde W. Ingram

Cinde W. Ingram is the Editor in Chief of Casual Living. This blog is her way to stay in touch with our readers: She wants to know what you think about new products, markets, the retail climate and, most of all, Casual Living. Let Cinde know what's going on.  

  • Best of the Best

    After attending the HD Expo and the High Point Market, I’ve had a glimpse of some of the industry’s best new designs for outdoor spaces, whether intended for contract/hospitality or residential uses. Still, I know much more is around the corner for the 2016 season once we reach the summer markets in Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Helping judge Casual Living’s annual Merchandising Awards also provides a snapshot of how talented retailers present outdoor designs successfully. Although I can’t physically visit all of the entries, I get a sense of the shopping experience offered by ... Read More
  • Catch the season

    At many homes across the nation, thermostats switched directly from heating to air conditioning as spring made its much anticipated arrival near the end of April. During the weeks leading up to that arrival, a sunny weekend was all it took to prompt shopping for outdoor furnishings by homeowners who wanted to shake off the cold and recreate some of the ideas sparked through magazines or home decorating shows, or brought back home with them from their travels. The hospitality category saw a better-than-expected surge in travel and tourism last year. That growth should help to support the upgrades and ... Read More
  • Start a winning season

    As the West Coast Ports process a backlog of cargo that built up during months of contract negotiations, business owners are reviewing their supply chain plans and retailers are revising product layouts on their floors. Those logistics are one piece that’s slightly out of place in a global economic picture that has shown promise of resurgence, boosted by the strength of cheap oil, falling interest rates and a reawakening housing market. As I write this, the wintry weather is melting into a spring thaw that fosters optimism rising with the temperature. March Madness is in full swing and NCAA ... Read More
  • A new look at digital opportunities

    The outdoor furnishings and grill industries have been experiencing radical changes in recent years. Foot traffic is down in stores while online research continues to rise and smartphones are becoming more important to the consumer’s shopping habits. Manufacturers are mostly steering clear of e-commerce (selling directly online) to better protect their brick-and-mortar dealers, but are investing in improvements to their websites in order to provide information to customers. They encourage dealers to have an online presence and often direct consumers to local dealers. Some manufacturers are more active than others in social media efforts to enhance their brand to ... Read More
  • On the hunt for outdoor products

    During the High Point Market, I heard a couple of buyers on the bus talking about the excitement of being on the hunt. Some shoppers think of it as a sport while others feel anxious about making orders of products that may not have the return on investment they know is necessary to keep their business healthy. While the mindset of retail buyers was as far-ranging as those of the homeowners they are trying to predict, the general mood of the High Point Market was nearly as positive as the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, held in Chicago in September ... Read More
  • Strategy for the future of casual

    With ongoing improvements in the housing and labor markets in addition to total U.S. retail sales (excluding automobiles) topping a record $2.2 trillion on an annual basis, there’s good reason for optimism at the fall furniture markets. The positive mood buoyed the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market last month as the announcement was made that the show will remain in Chicago through 2022. Despite that reassurance, more casual furniture manufacturers continue to try new exhibition strategies. For example, Pride Family Brands and the Outdoor GreatRoom will make their debut appearance at the High Point Market this month ... Read More
  • Passion and promise meet as Casual Market returns to Chicago

    Catch your breath. It’s time for the casual furnishings industry’s biggest buying market. Inside our September issue, you’ll see a sampling of the products being introduced this month at the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago. You can take a dip into the color trends that are developing for the 2015 marketplace. Also inside those pages is our exclusive research report to provide details of 100 Powerhouse Retailer businesses that offer outdoor furnishings in the United States. Casual Classics, the industry’s largest member-owned buying/design cooperative, describes how its members are responding to the ever-changing ... Read More
  • Accepting growth forecasts, changing minds

    Attendance was up 22% over last year at the ICFA Preview Show in Chicago, according to Vornado/Merchandise Mart’s post-show report. With all the showroom relocations on floors 15 and 16 plus different configuration of hallways, it was difficult for industry veterans to tell there were actually more attendees in the building. Many had speculated that attendance was down. The Preview Show was one of the three major summer tradeshows introducing new casual furnishings products to buyers last month. The July 15-17 show opened the same day the Atlanta market closed, and it ended just over a week before ... Read More
  • Channeling consumer dynamics

    Summer has finally arrived but unlike the old song, the living is never too easy. Change is happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up with the pace. There was a time when the backyard was considered complete when it had a barbecue grill, a picnic table and a few folding chairs. Over the past decade, the outdoor living trend turned a corner from what some considered a fad to become a permanent fixture of the American home. So now, the largest room in the home is more likely to be outdoors. In a recent study from Saber Grills ... Read More
  • Keep on smiling and selling

    “That’s something you don’t see very often,” a man commented as he passed by me at the HD Expo. My sense of curiosity wouldn’t let me keep walking without asking, “What’s that?” “Your smile,” he said simply. OK, that answer took me by surprise. I had expected him to be referring to one of the new products, the eye-catching displays or even some of the fashion-forward outfits worn by designers, buyers and exhibitors. Instead, he brought it down to the personal level. Keeping things personal, with an element of inspiration or a bit of non-offensive humor ... Read More
  • Economic warm up

    My trip to the beach for Easter weekend was a cold, rainy reminder of the pent-up demand to move outside that everyone in the outdoor furnishings industry has been clamoring for. After an unusually cold winter, all I wanted was to feel the sand beneath my feet, enjoy the surf and bake in the sun for a couple of days. My sister-in-law had invited us to her home at Holden Beach, N.C., but my husband couldn’t go because he had to work. Our son had been begging for a couple of months to take a break from his ... Read More
  • Warming up with the economy

    Economists were quick to dismiss a government report that the first quarter economy was weaker than previously thought. They shrugged it off like a dirty shirt, but the cold weather and severe storms across the nation last month may have had them reaching for extra cover. As the snow, ice and flooding fade into memory, the much anticipated and long-delayed spending by consumers should help to invigorate the economy just in time for the spring outdoor furnishings and grilling season. After noting the negative impact weather was having on economic data, Doug Handler, chief economist at IHS Global Insight told ... Read More