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Survey of Middle Market Housewares Executives Reveals Challenging Environment Today, Brighter Days Ahead
Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:00 PM
Housewares Outlook: Growth Amid Challenging Conditions
There are plenty of economic indicators available to forecast how well the economy is improving, but one of the best barometers may be whether consumers are purchasing new appliances and housewares items

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Despite ongoing challenges facing the retail sector and the economy, more than 70% of middle market housewares executives are forecasting stronger sales performance in 2014, according to a recent survey ( by CIT Group Inc. (NYSE:CIT), a leading provider of financing and advisory services to small businesses and middle market companies, and Forbes Insights. While the outlook is positive, 50% indicate that the current economic conditions are placing a strain on their financial performance, while 79% say their performance is closely linked to the U.S. economy.

Despite these challenges, more than a third (38%) see increased demand for upscale, premium products. And a similar number (34%) say that they are pursuing sales with customers who desire upscale, ergonomic, leading-edge technology and “high design” products. There is movement in more modestly priced housewares products, too; 30% of manufacturers say that they are aggressively pursuing this market.

“There are plenty of economic indicators available to forecast how well the economy is improving, but one of the best barometers may be whether consumers are purchasing new appliances and housewares items,” said Jon Lucas, President of CIT Trade Finance. “Manufacturers are telling us that they are seeing an uptick in demand, particularly in upscale items, and that’s a very good indicator that the economy is rebounding.”

The survey also revealed that one in four executives (27%) say that they are taking significant steps to shift offshore manufacturing back to the United States in an effort to help reduce shipping time (16%), improve quality (14%), and promote sales by being able to label products “Made in America.” In addition, 50% of housewares makers say that they are aggressively pursuing sustainability initiatives in their product lines.

Across the industry, customers, suppliers, retailers and houseware manufacturers are all seeking commercial concessions, which are sometimes at odds with each other. For example, nearly half of the executives surveyed note that customers are demanding longer payment terms, while 45% said that their suppliers are demanding shorter payment terms.

Additional Findings:

  • 43% of housewares manufacturers say that obtaining better payment terms from suppliers is critical.
  • 45% report that overall weakness in the retailing sector is harming their performance.
  • 63% report that while economic conditions play a significant role in their success, the quality and appeal of their products and services drives the most value in their business.

Complimentary copies of the full report can be downloaded at


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About the Study

The study, conducted in partnership between Forbes Insights and CIT Group Inc., included insight into the views and strategic plans of 152 senior, U.S.-based middle market ($25 million – $1 billion in annual sales) housewares executives. The survey was conducted in September 2013.

About Forbes Insights

Forbes Insights is the strategic research and thought leadership practice of Forbes Media, publisher of Forbes magazine and, whose combined media properties reach nearly 50 million business decision makers worldwide on a monthly basis. Taking advantage of a proprietary database of senior-level executives in the Forbes community, Forbes Insights conducts research on a host of topics of interest to C-level executives, senior marketing professionals, small business owners and those who aspire to positions of leadership, as well as providing deep insights into issues and trends surrounding wealth creation and wealth management.

About CIT

Founded in 1908, CIT (NYSE:CIT) is a financial holding company with more than $35 billion in financing and leasing assets. It provides financing, leasing and advisory services to its clients and their customers across more than 30 industries. CIT maintains leadership positions in middle market lendingfactoringretail financeaerospaceequipmentand rail leasing, and vendor finance. CIT operates CIT Bank (Member FDIC), its primary bank subsidiary, which, through its Internet bank, offers a suite of savings options designed to help customers achieve a range of financial goals.



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