Hearthstone from the Alloc Commercial laminate line.

More floor covering retailers/contractors are selling laminate floors, according to the just-completed 2004 Laminate Market Study conducted by the market research department of BNP Media in conjunction with theNational Floor Trendseditorial staff.

Seventy-six per cent of retailers surveyed are now selling laminate floor products, compared to 69 percent in 2003. Retailers committing resources to the laminate floor segment are seeing increased monthly sales averaging 11.61 per store -- an increase of 4.61 sales per store compared to our 2003 study. (chart 1)

The average ticket amount per laminate sale remains even with last year at $1,439. (chart 2) Annual laminate flooring sales grew by 14 percent in the $100,000 and higher category compared to last year. The product's mean annual sales skyrocketed to $327,390 this year compared to $67,700 last year (chart 3) using the same 11 percent floor space for laminates. Fueling the growth of laminate sales is an increased awareness of the product by consumers and its ease of installation.

And, with more laminate products hitting the market, 81 percent of our survey group considers the segment a profitable flooring alternative compared to ceramic, stone, wood, and vinyl floor covering products.

Named the top-selling brand of laminate flooring was Wilsonart Flooring for the third consecutive year. (chart 4) Quality and availability were the top two reasons cited by the responding flooring dealers/contractors for the line's popularity.

Click-system laminate products continue to gain greater market share. Glueless laminate floor products now account for 90 percent of the market -- a 10 percent increase from the 2003 study. This is a dramatic change since our first study in 2001, in which glueless laminates had a 39 percent market share.

The growth in the laminate segment is causing the dealers' product mix to change as follows: carpet/area rugs, 45 percent (-2 percent from 2003); ceramic tile, 14 percent (+1 percent); hardwood flooring, 13 percent (+1 percent); laminate flooring, 11 percent (+1 percent); sheet vinyl, 11 percent (-2 percent); stone tile, 2 percent (even); and vinyl tile, 4 percent (+1 percent).

Our retailer/contractor panel expects the product mix to change in the next 18 months with carpet falling to 44 percent on average, ceramic tile dipping to 13 percent, hardwood jumping to 15 percent, laminates moving up to 12 percent, sheet vinyl dropping to 10 percent, stone tile steady at 2 percent, and vinyl tile even at 4 percent on average.

BHK Moderna Vision Embossed-In-Register Laminate Flooring in Atlantic Oak.
Dealers are recommending laminate floor products to their customers more often than last year with product reliability/quality the top-mentioned attribute at 60 percent (multiple responses allowed). Overall, dealers themselves decide to sell/promote a particular brand or manufacturer of laminate flooring. Only 5 percent of the retailers/contractors surveyed never recommend laminate floor covering products to their customers. The next highest attribute cited was ease of installation/maintenance with 53 percent, followed by product design and styling at 45 percent. (chart 5)

According to the survey panel, an average of 43 percent of customers entering the store with a particular laminate floor product in mind purchase a different floor covering type based on the dealer's recommendation.

Further, among customers with a specific laminate brand in mind for purchase, a full 54 percent purchased a different floor covering brand based upon the recommendation of the retail salesperson.

Despite the popularity of laminate flooring, consumers sometimes complain about laminate floors they have purchased, according to our retailer panel. Leading their list of concerns are noise/sound, followed by scratching/durability and then water damage and maintenance. It is important to note, however, that an overwhelming majority of our survey panel indicates that customers respond "positively" when discussing laminate floor coverings.

A copy of the complete 2004 Laminate Flooring Market Study is available for $225 each or $195 for multiple copies.

Vintage Plank from Wilsonart's Estate Plus premium residential laminate collection.
Editor's note: National Floor Trends commissioned another in our ongoing series of market studies to help flooring retailers and contractors enhance the success and profitability of their businesses. Pinpointing current product and sales trends along with projecting the industry's future direction is vital to making strategic decisions.

The 2004 Laminate Flooring Market Study is based upon responses from a representative cross-section of flooring retailers and contractors. A sample of 2,000 active, qualified floor covering dealers/contractors was selected on an Nth name basis from the domestic circulation list of NFT subscribers for the study. The study had a 20 percent response.

Topics addressed include: the number of laminate floor sales per month per store; types of flooring sold currently and projected in 18 months; percentage of floor space devoted to laminate floor products; frequency dealers recommend laminate flooring; customers' response to laminate flooring; customer perceptions of laminate characteristics; top selling laminate brand; ranking of 12 different attributes that affect dealers' decision to sell/promote a particular laminate floor brand/manufacturer; issues that currently impact dealers' laminate flooring business; biggest challenges facing laminate manufacturers; and more.