I had the privilege of attending the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) fall convention in Savannah—the first group conference many of us in the flooring have attended since the start of the pandemic. What struck me was the overall excitement the NFA dealers had for gathering again. Despite this year’s challenges, they were optimistic about what the future of retail holds—not one member said to me that they were looking to get out of the flooring business.

This optimism was echoed by Scott Sandlin, executive vice president, residential division, Shaw Industries, who shared his 2021 outlook with the group.

Unemployment, which dropped from 14.7% in April to 7.9% in September, will still be a question mark after the election and as we see what happens with the coronavirus going into new year. The Wall Street Journal also reported that 43% of economists don’t see the United States gaining back lost jobs until 2023.

But on the bright side, residential construction is on an upward trend. New construction is approaching 2006 levels and the three L’s—land, lumber and labor—are on a positive trajectory, which will keep builders on a roll for the foreseeable future. Money is affordable, too, so those employed can afford to fix their homes, and homes are gaining value as demand picks up for single-family residences.

“One of the biggest challenges we all have is continuing to build our culture of our organizations through all this,” Sandlin said. “You’ve got to really figure out how to coach and develop your talent versus just trying to run your business through chaos.”