Pier 1 Imports Gets Buried in a Crowded Home Furnishings Market

Pier 1 interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder says the store has a loyal customer base and is working to get its mojo back. But it can’t catch a break.The challenges facing the Fort Worth-based home furnishings chain of 973 stores seem to be multiplying as it struggles to recover from a year when sales dropped 14 percent and it swung to an annual loss for the first time since the Great Recession.In the chain’s heyday, Americans in a new home or apartment would beeline to the nearest Pier 1 to find that layer of accessories that personalize a room with the shopper’s own sense of design. Now everyone sells home accessories, and the design edge that Pier 1 once had has been duplicated over and over.Target learned some of Pier 1’s tricks long ago — offering fun, inexpensive home accessories — and Walmart has been on trend lately, too.Pier 1 is also being squeezed out of a growing home furnishings market and overwhelmed by new competition, both online from Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, Houzz and Hayneedle, and in shopping centers, where formerly catalog-only competitors now operate stores, such as Ballard Designs, Sur la Table and Frontgate.At the same time, new home brands have surfaced in the past 15 years or have embarked on rapid expansions. Among them are West Elm, T.J. Maxx’s HomeGoods and Plano-based At Home. Those stores, plus Ikea’s movement into more U.S. cities, all create new alternatives for potential Pier 1 shoppers.Pier 1 is competing with companies that are willing to sacrifice profits to build sales, said Dallas-based retailing consultant Steve Dennis."There are just so many places now that do what they do. And Wayfair, Amazon and others are advertising a lot and pricing below market. As long as investors go along for the ride, this will persist," he said.  Continue reading...

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