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Hurricanes could impact attendance at High Point Furniture Market

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Hurricanes Harvey and Irma damaged homes and destroyed lives. Now, their impacts could be felt in the Triad.

”We lost a lot of buyers who came in through the pre-market event, around that time through right now our first concern is for the well-being of the people,” said Tom Conley, the president and CEO for the High Point Market Authority.

Conley says as of Friday, pre-registration for people attending the fall market from Florida is down 8 percent and in Texas, it has dipped 7 percent. He says we won’t know the totals until weeks after the event, which have a more than $5 billion economic impact.

Conley says he’s not too concerned about the attendance because he says when people in Texas and Florida take care of their personal needs, they’ll be back.

“It's not something people really want to talk about but when people get their insurance check and when people are going to have to buy more articles for their home, we think businesses will be really good in those areas and retailers will want to have those products on hand to help those affected by the hurricane,” Conley said.

The High Point Market Authority can’t control natural disasters, but they can try to keep attendance up by adjusting to how the business is changing.

“In the last five to seven years as an industry, we've lost about 5,000 retail establishments, that's not individual stores that's different ownership groups,” Conley said. “Could be 7,500 to 10,000 stores. This industry has lost brick-and-mortar but in the meantime, we have seen a huge rise in e-commerce.”

Keynote speakers, like the Property Brothers, new furniture trends and discussions on the future of the industry is what Conley hopes will keep people coming back. He knows how valuable the market is to the community.

“We are working very hard to reach out to new retailers, new designers, get them to understand the importance of High Point and get them to keep coming to this market,” Conley said. “It helps support the local economy and jobs so it is very very critical that this market survives.”

The High Point Furniture Market kicks off Oct. 14. ​