More than half of consumers (51%) are updating the look of their homes with new floors, with carpet and hardwood leading demand, according to Shaw Floors consumer research. The company revealed the data during SFN Open, the virtual convention series for retailers, which began on January 19.

“One of the big positives that has come out of this is the emphasis and importance of home,” said Heather Yamada, director of consumer marketing and merchandising, Shaw Industries. “It has become a place that is our safe haven and we realize that there’s a lot of things we want to update. It’s really accelerated home improvement projects.”

In addition to wanting to make updates to things like paint, appliances, window treatments and furniture, 51% of consumers surveyed by Shaw say that they are also considering updating their flooring during the pandemic. When it comes to flooring, Yamada says consumers are in search of products, both hard and soft, that will improve the look of their home and will make their homes easier to clean and maintain.

Described as “comfort food for the home” by Tim Baucom, president of Shaw Industries, carpet is softening residential spaces, while adding an extra level of comfort and warmth that we could all use these days.

“Carpet is still very relevant in the flooring decision process,” Yamada said. “People are seeking out carpet and it has a lot of benefits especially in what we call our COVID world.”

Consumers continue to turn to the hard surface category for options that offer style and design as well as durability.

Whether they have hard or soft surface in mind, the product cleanability factor is critical, said Yamada, reporting that 54% of those surveyed by the manufacturer say cleaning will matter even more post-pandemic.

We know that the consumer of today is more informed than ever before, and they continue to turn to blogs, design influencers and retailers to learn as much as they can about flooring products before making the investment.

“Consumers will tell you that shopping actually includes a lot of research,” said Valerie Clift, vice president, U30 Group.

To aid in their research, especially as many are sticking to online shopping during this time, consumers are utilizing online tools to help improve the research and shopping process from home.

“Ten out of 15 resources consumers rely on are online,” Yamada said. “We know the online experience and engagement by consumers has accelerated. We don’t see this shifting backwards; we see this to continue to grow and accelerate.”

These tools are doing everything from helping them compare and narrow down product searches, to allowing them visualize select products in their actual space through the power of AI and AR.

“As [consumers] are going through that research process, they don’t have to stop and ask for help,” Yamada said. “They are able to get as much info on their own and do it at their own pace and timeline.”

But even with these innovative tools that make the online shopping process simple and seamless, experts say above all else, consumers want to see and feel the product—that’s where the independent retailer comes in. According to Yamada, consumers find that independent retailers do a better job at guiding them through the flooring decision process, by providing them with knowledge, design assistance and product samples.

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