Dave Workman, executive director, PRO Group: If anyone is really honest with themselves, trying to predict a sales number for 2009 is probably more difficult than in any other year I’ve seen. The smart money would tell you that most of the membership are planning for their business to be down this year, but are hopeful that this economic thing will bottom out sometime in the summer. Maybe when we get to the fall and the holiday season we will see easier comparisons and possibly start putting up some increases. But I don’t believe anyone has a good handle on it now. The right answer for where do you think sales will be in March is, ‘I don’t know.’
Richard Glikes, executive director, HTSA: Last year, sales were flat or up for 20 percent of the group. About 25 percent were down 30 percent or more. It’s not pretty out there. There seems to be a slight increase in foot traffic this year, but it’s inconsistent at best. We’re tackling three problems: lack of visibility, market erosion and cash-flow problems. I’m trying to have quarterly promotions with my vendors, and am also working on quarterly programs as opposed to annual programs.
Bob Lawrence, CEO, Brand Source: By category, except for CE [which is the HES division’s area], appliances were about flat, furniture was down five percent whereas the industry was down 10 percent, and floor covering was not pretty. For 2009, it’s probably too early to tell, but the numbers so far seem fairly consistent with ’08.