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Store fixture industry flattening out after 16 years of growth.

The $6.2 billion store fixture industry is looking at a flat 1992 and only slight growth in 1993 after growing an average of 16 percent between 1975 and 1990. This growth was fueled in part by the explosions of new shopping malls built during the 1980s.

From 1975 to 1990, the value of store fixture shipments, both wood and non-wood, jumped from approximately $1.750 billion to $6.193 billion. Bernie Whalen, executive director of the National Association of Store Fixtures Manufacturers, said he links this growth to a number of factors, especially the number of shopping malls built over this time period. In the 1970s, Whalen said the number of shopping malls in this country numbered approximately 3,500. Throughout the eighties, when savings and loans were "giving out money," this number grew until, today, the number of shopping malls in the U.S. stands at approximately 35,000, he said.

"The retail industry increased by 1,000%," said Whalen. "Is that going to continue? Most people say |no.' At best, sales will be flat or slightly increased."

Whalen added that future growth areas for the store fixture industry will come from changes mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, government needs and vendor shops. Vendor shops are areas within stores that sell specific products such as Levi Strauss and Nike who will want their own distinctive store fixtures.

A tightening industry

As industry growth flattens out, Whalen said manufacturers will face increased competition trom across the country. Manufacturers in one area will not just compete for a job from a manufacturer down the block, but one across country and perhaps from outside the United States.

"They are all competitors now," Whalen said. "No matter where a company is located, they are competing nationally. even if they don't know it. Ninety percent (of manufacturers) don't know this. There are no handshake agreements anymore."

To compete in the future, companies are going to have become more aggressive. This includes having a professional market presence that includes advertising for clients. He also said that companies must upgrade their technological capabilities.

Equally important to business are the relationships developing between retailers, designers and manufacturers, Whalen said. "Manufacturers are starting to do design work, designers are working with retailers. This is causing different relationships out there."

"Store fixture manufacturers are going to have to start acting like the big boys, even if they think they're not. If they don't, they will be driven out of business," Whalen said.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Adams, Larry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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