With 'Bridgerton,' Williams Sonoma Banks On Consumer Comeback

Want to whip up a strawberry scone or some ollalieberry floral petite fours? Serve ‘em up on some Regency-inspired china?

Quite probably, you don’t. But with a deep dive into the “Bridgerton” niche, in partnership with Netflix and Shondaland, the show’s producer, the high lifestyle retailer is showing just one more way it’s ready to lead increasingly confident shoppers back to some whimsical splurging.

The launch comes as Wedbush boosted the rating of the company, which also owns Pottery Barn. Wedbush now expects William Sonoma to outperform competitors.

Demand for home improvement furnishings declined in 2023 as people shifted spending priorities, interest rates spiked, and home sales plunged, writes Seth Basham, an analyst who covers the company for Wedbush. “We believe many of these key drivers are bottoming or reversing, which should translate to stronger demand in 2024,” he writes.

The third season of “Bridgerton” doesn’t arrive on Netflix until later this spring. The collection hinges on viewing parties and on-demand elegance, from beverage and baking mixes to artisanal chocolates, cookies and candies.

Fans of Lady Whistledown can also cook by the book with the “Bridgerton Guide to Entertaining.”

“As the leader in bringing people together around food and high-quality products for the kitchen and home, the team at Williams Sonoma has created a beautiful collection that will delight home cooks, bakers and hosts alike,” said Sandie Bailey, Shondaland’s chief innovation and design officer.

They cost more than a tuppence. The “Bridgerton” picnic basket, for instance, stocked with ceramic plates, golden flatware, wine glasses, a corkscrew, a cheese board, a cheese knife, napkins and a blanket, retails for $350. Pastry mixes start at $30, and cocktail mixers at $20.

Wedbush isn’t alone in sensing a shift in consumer spending sentiment. As fears of recession continue to recede, the National Retail Federation recently commented on a change from “uncertain” to “guarded positivity,” fueled by better-than-expected holiday spending trends.

Wages keep rising. Even with some headline-grabbing layoffs, the labor market continues to be strong. And while some experts are worried about rising household debt, consumer confidence is surging.

The Conference Board’s latest Present Situation Index, based on how consumers see current business and labor market conditions, jumped to 149,  up from 137 in the prior month. The Expectations Index, based on people’s perceptions of short-term income, business, and labor markets, jumped to 86, up from 77 in November.

“While December’s renewed optimism was seen across all ages and household income levels,” writes Dana Peterson, the Conference Board’s chief economist, “the gains were largest among householders aged 35-54 and households with income levels of $125,000 and above.”

Write-in responses to the survey, which draws from a panel of 36 million people, showed that rising prices remain the top concern. Worries about politics, interest rates, and global conflicts all decreased.

 The Commerce Department’s just-released December spending data is also encouraging, rising 0.6% from November on a seasonally adjusted basis and 5.6% from a year ago. Those numbers put spending gains well ahead of inflation, which has slowed to 3.4%.


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