Over three-fifths (61%) of our panel expects the carpet category to continue to grow during the next 12 months.
Nearly two-fifths (39%) of our respondents experienced increased hardwood sales during the past 12 months, followed by carpet (33%), according to our just-completed Market Trends Study completed by 102 flooring dealers and contractors. Other flooring categories also tallied gains: resilient, 28% and ceramic tile, 28%, with overall sales increasing during the last 12 months from 26% of the respondents. (Chart 1)
Over three-fifths (61%) of our panel expects the carpet category to continue to grow during the next 12 months. And with sales growing in all segments, overall sales are projected to grow by 65% of the panel. Gross annual sales are expected to increase slightly in 2011 for 56% of the panel, while 8% of respondents project a significant increase in 2011 sales.(Chart 2)
The residential replacement segment will be the leading area for the responding retailers at 57%, followed by contract/commercial, 19% and builder/new construction, 16%. Main Street commercial will account for 8% of retailer sales.
In the past 12 months sales have changed for the respondents as follows: 9% said residential replacement increased significantly; contract/commercial increased slightly at 26%; builder/new construction decreased significantly at 37%; and in Main Street commercial, 40% said sales have remained the same. Current business conditions are slightly better for 31% of respondents; just about the same number of panelists see business about the same as a year ago.
Over half of the panel (52%) expects business to be slightly better in the next 12 months. It is interesting to note that flooring retailers are selling hardwood flooring products (89%) just as much as carpet (86%), laminate flooring (86%) and vinyl/resilient (85%). Carpet still controls most floor covering sales with a 36% share, followed by hardwood, 16%; ceramic tile, 14%; resilient flooring, 12%; laminate floors, 9% and stone/marble, 6% and area rugs, 2%. Other products respondents report selling countertops, 3%; window coverings, 1%; and paint, 1%.
The panel reports that marketing and advertising, computers/software, showroom design and training and education are the top areas retailers will increase their investment over the next two years.
Our respondents prefer to interact with their manufacturer/distributor reps on a local basis (69%), followed by an in-house manufacturer employee, 21%; a manufacturer website, 5%; manufacturer literature without direct contact, 4%; B2B computer application, 1%; and other, 1%.
In evaluating the attributes or characteristics when selecting or purchasing a brand of floor covering, competitive pricing was most important at 93%, followed by scheduling and on-time delivery, 92%; responsiveness in handling claims/services, 90%; accessibility of the representative at 87%, providing installation specifications, 76%; and color choices/styles/selection at 75%. The least important characteristic was effective co-op advertising at 30%.(Chart 3)
Most of the panel (80%) sees a trend toward environmentally responsible flooring products and materials. And in these difficult times, our panel was about evenly split on adding new product categories during the past 12 months.(Chart 4)