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Furniture Sales Draw Mixed Reviews In Early Christmas Season

Large chains see sales increase, smaller ones not so happy


December 6, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Shoppers are definitely not camping outside furniture stores, as they did last week at toy stores. While sales at large furniture store chains have increased compared to last Christmas and the rest of 2001, smaller ones have seen slightly more traffic in comparison to the rest of 2001 and flat sales compared to 2000.

"From Sept. 11 to early November we saw our sales drop 13%. But from early November on we have enjoyed very good sales," said Noel Berrios, vice president of Mueblerias Berrios, which was bought back from Heilig-Myers Co. by its original Puerto Rican owners in April 2000. According to Berrios, the 33-store chain’s sales increased by 11.2% in November when compared to Nov. 2000. He said he expects the same growth in December and January.

Rooms to Go Regional President Brian Shames said that this Christmas season has kicked off better than last year’s. He also said that sales in 2001 have been better than in 2000, but declined to give any specific numbers, and added that the chain plans to expand locally in 2002. Rooms To Go has its landmark store in Plaza Las Americas and two outlets: one in Caguas and another in Aguadilla.

Smaller furniture store chains, however, are not so positive. According to sources at Econo Muebles and Centro Muebles, sales in 2001 as a whole are definitely down in comparison to 2000. This Christmas season is no exception.

"Furniture sales are not experiencing the same demand as toy sales," said Rolando Cruz, a buyer at Centro Muebles, which has eight stores in the metro area. "We have seen a little bit more traffic in late November in comparison to the rest of the year, which was very bad. In comparison to 2000, total sales have decreased. Now there’s more competition and sales are diluted," he added.

Econo Muebles Vice President Victor Guasp Jr. had a similar response. "During late November we have seen sales increase somewhat in comparison to the rest of 2001, which was a total disaster," he said. "In comparison with 2000, this year’s sales are down 20% to 25%." Econo Muebles has one store in Yauco and two in Ponce.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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