Columbia Flooring’s Berkshire.

Our exclusive survey of 140 floor covering dealers and contractors finds that 2011 residential wood business is expected to increase for two-thirds of respondents, while 56% of respondents see the commercial hardwood segment remaining similar to 2010, as 32% see commercial wood jobs increasing.

IndusParquet’s Brazilian Hickory

Competitive pricing is the single most important issue facing the hardwood flooring segment today, according to our survey panel in the just-completed 2011 Hardwood Flooring Market Trends Study.

The residential replacement sector dominates total annual flooring sales for survey participants with 54%, followed by builder/new construction, 20%; contract/commercial, 17%; and main street commercial, 9%. Our panel reported an average of 10 hardwood flooring sales per month in 2010, an increase of two sales per month over 2009. The average ticket amount per hardwood sale decreased to $3,037, compared to $3,764 in the prior year.

Mullican Flooring’s Meridian Pointe.

Wood follows only flooring product segment leader carpet at 24%. See chart 1 for total 2010 flooring sales by category.(Chart 1)

Over 80% of hardwood sales are of factory prefinished products with engineered flooring with a 47% share, which is evenly split between solid and engineered hardwood. More wood floors are installed using nails, 41%, followed by glue-down, 24%, a drop of 7% from 2009; staple was steady at 20%; and glueless (click) finished at 14%, a 2% gain from 2009.

Three in five hardwood flooring sales are for residential replacement projects. Red oak remains the top selling hardwood species with a 50% share.

Thirty-nine percent of the survey panel noted that their store’s best selling width of hardwood was more than 4” wide.(Chart 2)And, in the coming year, the average width of hardwood flooring will continue to increase. Wood flooring products occupy approximately one-quarter of total floor space.

Machine/hand-scraped woods, 84%, and exotics (79%) are the most popular styles of wood flooring sold today, followed by reclaimed woods, 48%.

Named top selling hardwood flooring brands were Mohawk, Bruce, Shaw, Somerset, Armstrong, Mullican, Mannington, and Anderson.

Expectations in 2011
Total sales expectations in 2011 by the panel shows carpet at 30%; hardwood at 24%; ceramic tile, 16%; laminate flooring, 10%; resilient floors, 10%; stone, 5%; and area rugs, 4%. The residential replacement segment will continue as the most important industry sector at 57% of total expected annual sales. Looking specifically at hardwood, the residential replacement sector is expected to account for 58% of sales, followed by 23% in builder/new construction; 12%, contract/commercial; and 7%, Main Street commercial.

Brand Selection
Price (78%), quality of products offered (74%) and product availability (68%) are the most important factors influencing the hardwood manufacturers/distributors that retailers purchase from or recommend. There was a significant decrease in the influence of price compared to last year – a drop from 90%.(Chart 3)Compared to 2010, the purchase influence factors of style of products offered; sales rep knowledge/support; consistent on-time delivery; customer request; and environmentally friendly products decreased significantly.

The quality of products offered is again the key factor when our survey panel evaluates a hardwood flooring product line. Other factors key to retailers are product availability, 58%; price, 57%;  and style of products offered, 53%; customer service provider, 38%; sales rep knowledge/support, 36%; ease of installation, 34%; warranty offered, 34%; brand reputation, 29%; environmentally friendly products, 22%; and supporting marketing/merchandising materials, 18%.

Product Sourcing
Forty-two percent of survey respondents typically purchase hardwood from six suppliers. This number of suppliers has remained constant for the last three years. Also consistent with previous years, the majority of hardwood flooring is sourced from either a full-line flooring distributor or a specialized hardwood flooring distributor, 36% each; direct from domestic manufacturers, 24%; and importer, 5%.(Chart 4)

Comparable with previous years, imported flooring products (63%) have significantly more product quality issues than domestically produced products (37%). The top complaint of imported materials is quality control/poor quality at 47%, an increase of 12% from last year.