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In Focus

Gems for Every Generation: The Wit and Wisdom of Jerry Epperson’s State of the Industry

Oct 15, 2018 4:34:39 PM


The hottest seat on Sunday morning at Market (after the earlier WithIt Breakfast, which this year featured Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV’s “Home Town”—see our tweet!) is in the Retail Resource Center Seminar Room, Plaza Suites, where industry leaders gather at 9:00am to hear Jerry Epperson’s incomparable perspective on “The State of the Industry.”

It’s been an insider’s industry tradition for over 25 years, because when it comes to forecasting the future of furniture, Jerry is even more accurate than a psychic. Put this event on your calendar for the Spring 2019 Market—now! 

40+ years of expertise appeals to all generations

While he claims to prepare his highly awaited presentation on his scooter ride over from the Radisson Hotel, each fact-filled session reflects Jerry’s professional life as a world-renowned researcher and analyst, keynote speaker for over 40 years, columnist for Furniture Today for decades, and publisher of his monthly newsletter, Furnishings Digest, since 1974.

His fan base covers every generation, from Jake Jabs, the 87-year-old president and CEO of American Warehouse, one of the industry’s most successful, recognized, and honored rock stars who recently logged in his 100th Market visit, to first-timers who have heard the buzz and want to benefit from Jerry’s valuable advice. The industry media is also well represented, with Jerry’s forecasts making headlines around the world.

Demographic observations 

At this Market, as always, seats were at a premium and crammed close together. A true sense of camaraderie prevailed similar to the crowd at a rock concert of a beloved idol. At precisely 9:00am, the groupies became silent, awaiting Jerry’s (Epperson, not Garcia) performance. His set included his classic demographic observations, such as:

“Statistics prove household spending peaks with the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups, with the 76 million Baby Boomers’ peak influence in the 90s. Generation X was so much smaller at 56 million that they are the key reason our economy and retailing suffered through 2000-2015 when they dominated the 35-54 age segment.”

It didn’t seem appropriate to boo the Gen Xers for not buying enough furniture, and thankfully Jerry moved on to the good news everyone was hoping for.

“Beginning in 2016, the influence of the largest generation, the 83 million millennials, began and will not peak until around 2034.”

Bravo and amen to that!

Predicting market trends   


As the gifted psychic that he is, Jerry had precisely predicted the multi-day downturn of the stock market after a run of record-breaking highs in his October issue of Furnishings Digest (distributed to all seminar attendees). He explained how and why this happened, but you’ll have to score a copy of the FD for the scoop. Jerry inspired hope among the flock with his insistence that the long-term outlook for the stock market is positive. Another heartfelt bravo!

When it comes to tariffs and international trade agreements, Jerry continued his glass half full outlook. “Tariffs are not the issue themselves. They are only the tool used as the bargaining chip to accelerate and ensure negotiations.” He was upbeat about the USMCA (new NAFTA), “People who know it well describe it as very creative and innovative in resolving issues with benefits to all sides, especially on IT issues.”

As for our dealings with China, Jerry said he still believes “President Trump has a hidden agenda with Chinese leaders that will allow the announcement of a favorable trade agreement just prior to the Congressional elections.” We only need to wait until November 6 to find out if this prediction is up there with Jerry’s greatest hits!

Topics: Conferences

Pam Goldberg

Written by Pam Goldberg

Pam Goldberg, affectionately known by her clients as “The Marketing Maven,” is a consultant, freelance writer, and public relations professional with four centuries (oops, decades) of experience ranging from Connecticut to London, San Francisco to Greensboro, with a stint in Auckland. A writer for the Market website, and veteran of 52 Markets, she is Kreber’s on-the-ground operative, reporting on events so accurately you can smell the new sofas.

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