Window Expressions expanding in commercial, residential markets
Window Expressions, the Elkhart, Ind., manufacturer and distributor of commercial and residential window coverings and drapery, has announced that Melissa Ramey has been hired to fill its newly created position of product/market sales specialist. Window Expressions and its sister company, United Shade, are affiliates of the Dicor Corp.
Ramey’s initial duties will include business development within the commercial/contract area, as well as with other manufacturers in the component markets. She will also open up opportunities in larger markets, such as hospitality and hotel, assisted living, hospitals, housing authorities, property managers, schools, universities, specialty paint, hardware and home improvement stores.
“As [Ramsey] develops these new application markets, she will expand her duties into major account relationship management, as well as taking a leading role in targeting our solutions for architectural acceptance and bid specification,” said Richard Delks, general manager of Window Expressions.
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Holiday forecast for 2011: “Average”
Retailers that enjoyed robust sales during the 2010 holiday season should not expect a repeat performance, according to a forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF). The Washington, D.C., trade organization predicted a 2.8% increase this year, totaling $465.6 billion. In 2010, holiday retail sales rose 5.2% over the previous year, according to the NRF. The 10-year average holiday sales increase is 2.6%.
“Just when you think the U.S. economy is turning around, another factor comes into play that changes the game,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Persistently high unemployment, an erratic stock market, modest income growth and rising consumer prices are all combining to impact spending this holiday season. How Americans will react to shaky economic data is the question, but the good news for retailers is that shoppers have not yet thrown in the towel.”
For the first time this year, NRF used its holiday forecasting model to create a projection for seasonal hiring in retail. According to the NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, which is comparable with the 495,000 seasonal employees they hired last year. While most retailers bring in additional employees during the holiday season to account for an uptick in traffic and sales, retailers have also been hiring throughout the last year: Since last August, the retail industry has added nearly 100,000 jobs.
NPD sees positives in consumer tracking
Consumer response to coupons and special deals is increasing, according to the NPD Consumer Tracking Service.
Nearly three-quarters, or 74%, of consumers strongly agree that coupons and special deals are the deciding factors when it comes to purchasing home improvement products. This number has increased over the past year.
"In order to grow their share in the home improvement environment, manufacturers and retailers need to look toward innovation, and the basics of effective and efficient merchandising to uncover the opportunities, including deploying the promotional deals consumers want,” said Kevin Gilbert, director of The NPD Group.
In a press release from Oct. 11, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based research company said glimmers of optimism are mixed with dark clouds of the economy.
"While overall sales of home improvement products are still showing declines year over year, there is subtle growth emerging in some categories," Gilbert said. "Despite the uneven economic recovery, lighting and electrical category, fans, hand tools, and lawn and garden products are all heading in a positive direction."
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