Bruce Hardwood Floors Lock & Fold American Originals Hickory Antique Natural

A closer look at the category showed that the residential replacement portion captured 54% of 2008 sales, more than twice the 22% for the builder/new construction category. The contract/commercial segment followed at 17% with Main Street commercial at 8%.

On average, respondents generated nine hardwood flooring sales, while on average the total amount per hardwood sale was $3,710 in 2008 (Chart 1). The monthly average in hardwood flooring sales for our respondents was $55,337. It is interesting to see that 33% of respondents sell from $35,000 to $100,000+ of hardwood monthly. Annual hardwood flooring sales are now over $454,000 (mean), within the group, with 24% reporting $500,000 or more.

Harris Wood’s Trail House Golden Palimeno

The sales figures are growing with the increased floor space being dedicated to showcasing wood flooring products. Wood products are the second most displayed flooring product on the show floor with 21% of showroom space. Only carpet, with 36%, gets more floor space.

Factory pre-finished hardwood flooring continues to account for the majority of sales at 86%. Job-site finished sales increased slightly to a 14% share. Sales of solid and engineered are nearly split identically at 52% and 48%, respectively.

Mannington Mills’ American Walnut.

The top selling brand of hardwood selected by our panelists is Bruce. Eighteen percent of respondents selected Bruce as their top selling brand. Mohawk was second at 12% with Armstrong, Anderson and Mannington rounding out the top five.

Hardwood is still installed predominantly using a nailer at 40%; followed by glue-down at 28%; staple, 18%; and glueless (click), 14% (Chart 2).

Red Oak was the runaway top selling hardwood species at 55%, followed by White Oak, 11%; Brazilian Cherry and Hickory at 8% each; Maple, 7%; Bamboo, 4%; Brazilian Walnut, Pecan and Pine at 1% each; and other, 4%.

Buyers are now selecting wider width products compared to last year. Products from  2.5” to 3” wide now control half of sales at 51%. The demand for products less than 2.5” and between 3” to 4”has dropped. The market for wood products of 4” wide and above has increased slightly (Chart 3).

A glimpse at the product mix shows more dealers are now offering reclaimed woods to customers compared to previous years. Machine/hand scraped woods and exotics are found in nearly all showrooms

Here’s what respondents said about the outlook on their 2009 business:

• Residential and commercial hardwood flooring sales are expected to remain the same or decrease from 2008 levels.

• Product category sales will mirror those of 2008 with carpet, 37%; wood, 21%; ceramic tile, 16%; laminate, 10%; resilient, 9%; stone, 4% and area rugs, 3% (Chart 4).

• The residential replacement segment will increase to 58% of business, while the builder business will drop to 18%, and the contract/commercial and Main Street commercial categories will remain stable.

• Demand for bamboo products will increase two-fold.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents are now working with six or more hardwood suppliers. This is an 11% increase over last year. And the other respondents continue to work with the same number of suppliers as in the past. Respondents report sourcing significantly less of their hardwood flooring from general flooring distributors and slightly more direct from a domestic manufacturer.

Eight out of ten respondents indicate price is the primary factor influencing which hardwood flooring manufacturers/distributors they purchase or recommend. Compared to last year’s study there is a significant increase in the influence of price, sales rep knowledge/support, style of products offered, low or no minimum order quantity, and supporting marketing/merchandising materials. Brand reputation, according to respondents is less important.

Survey respondents are having more product quality issues from imported wood products compared to domestic materials.

Competitive pricing leads the concerns of the respondents followed by foreign imports, competing with other hard surfaces, consumer knowledge of hardwood, moisture problems, product quality, durability of finish, quality of installers, and legal issues such as the Lacey Act.

Even though the Lacey Act was not top of mind in this survey, it will increase in importance for all industry segments from retailer to contractor to distributor to manufacturer.

Editor’s note:The preceding is a snapshot of a new comprehensive study examining the retail market for hardwood flooring. The conclusions are based on the opinions, preferences and purchasing behavior of U.S. flooring retailers/dealers. The study was conducted by Clear Seas Research, a division of BNP Media.

This in-depth research study, including three-year trending data, provides clear and actionable results to give companies a competitive edge. This report provides insightful information to help manufacturers better understand the changing industry and includes information on various topics such as: What is the top selling brand of hardwood? What brands of exotic, machine hand scraped and reclaimed woods are current top sellers? What persuades retailers to sell/promote a particular brand? How do flooring retailers rate their top selling hardwood flooring brand on several attributes? 

The survey was administered online and emailed to 5,745 flooring dealers/contractors who are also subscribers to National Floor Trends magazine. A total of 227 surveys were completed for a response rate of 4%. The full and complete report is available from Clear Seas Research. For information about ordering or to find out more about Clear Seas Research services contact Sarah Turner atturners@clearseasresearch.comor visit our website