While I admit the title of this column may seem a bit strange to our readers in Southern California and the Southwest, for everyone else around the country who has experienced a cold, snowy, miserable winter, you’ll understand.
And even for those who have not been battered by sub-arctic temperatures and buried neck deep in snow, this technically still applies as the first two months of the year are, historically, the slowest when it comes to consumers heading out looking for new flooring.
But with spring just around the corner you can bet people will start to come out of their caves in search of products to spruce up their homes after a long winter.
And this year there are real reasons why one should be optimistic the spring season will not only be strong but a gateway into what should be an overall good year, even if it hasn’t started out that way for most.
First off, the industry in general—from residential to commercial, and across most of the country—is coming off its best year since the Great Recession began.
Yes, December was a tough month for many and the first two months of this year have been generally brutal in sales, but the reasons for this slowdown are truly temporary as they are all pretty much weather related.
At a number of conventions I’ve attended during late January, early February, some people were jokingly questioning if anyone in certain states even made a sale, such as Minnesota, where temperatures plummeted so low schools were cancelled. While they were kidding, there was a hinge of truth as, let’s face it, when the wind chills are minus 70 degrees, the last thing on Mrs. Consumer’s mind is to go shopping for a new living room carpet or kitchen floor, or any flooring for that matter. Maybe she’s thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to have a radiant heat system under her bathroom tile but she was still not braving the elements.
Second, as has been noted here a number of times, all the indicators the industry uses to forecast sales are pointing up and the bad winter hasn’t changed any of those.
New housing is expected to continue to grow year-over-year, and not just starts, but more important, completions. Remember, flooring is one of the last items to go into a home so a completed home means a flooring sale and installation were made. Also home prices are continuing to move back up to a more normal state, meaning people will be more willing to invest in their dwellings. More people are getting jobs, not to mention the number of marriages are once again projected to grow, meaning there will be more people looking to move out of their parents’ houses and into their own as they start—or re-start—their adult lives.
There are a host of other indicators but the simple fact is, after five or six years of sitting on the sidelines there is a great deal of pent-up demand by consumers to make one’s home a truly comfortable, beautiful place again.
So, don’t let the winter doldrums affect your attitudes. As the snow melts and the days get longer you can bet consumers will soon be entering your stores looking for the latest and greatest products. And considering how bad the winter was for many, think of the damage done to Mrs. Consumer’s precious floors—from the entryway to the kitchen to the living room and so on.