Sigh of relief for market
Furniture market leader Tom Conley offers a concise answer when asked how a historic default on the nation’s debt obligations and continued government shutdown would have affected the trade show if Congress hadn’t acted Wednesday.
“I don’t even want to talk about it, think about it,” Conley said the day after Congress passed a last-moment bill to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling for borrowing.
Had the federal government defaulted, which could have caused U.S. and global financial markets to plunge, the economic outlook heading into the official start of the fall market Saturday would have been gloomy and pessimistic. With the resolution of the shutdown and debt ceiling, tens of thousands of furniture retailers and manufacturers in town this week can resume “business as usual,” said Conley, president of the High Point Market Authority. “From an attitude standpoint, everybody can breathe a big sigh of relief.”
Home furnishings analyst Ken Smith said the industry has been incrementally improving most of this year, meaning that the fall market should result in decent to strong business. But had the shutdown continued and a default happened, it would have cast a pall over the trade show, said Smith, a partner with accounting and financial services firm Smith Leonard in High Point.
“Just the pure uncertainty of that would clearly have put some sort of damper on market. I think people are coming to market with pretty positive thoughts and moods,” Smith said.
Even though the worst effects of the crisis didn’t happen, the government shutdown during the first two weeks of October did have a ripple effect on market, Conley told The High Point Enterprise.
The shutdown slowed the processing of late visa requests for foreign visitors to the trade show, he said. Visas are required for foreign travelers to the United States.
“I don’t know what the backlog is, and I don’t know how fast they will be able to resolve that. So that’s still a concern,” Conley said Thursday.
Also, the shutdown hampered processing and inspection of products coming into the country from overseas through ports and airports. Conley said he hopes companies that were shipping home furnishings or accessories from offshore will be able to get their wares here on time.
“If people have product sitting at a dock, especially if it’s a one-of-a-kind product, will the exhibitor be able to get it?” Conley said.
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The federal government shutdown and narrow avoidance of a historic U.S. debt default this week is the third time in the past 12 years that a major national crisis happened leading into a fall High Point Market. In 2001, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., took place weeks before the fall furniture market. Five years ago, the collapse of the financial industry and U.S. stock markets, prompting the Great Recession, took place in September, again leading into the fall trade show.
How they voted
How North Carolina delegation voted on bill to end the shutdown and raise debt ceiling
Yes - Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, Republican Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, Rep. Mel Watt, D-12th
No - Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-2nd, Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th
Source: The Associated Press