The 2014 Floor TrendsFlooring Industry Study, conducted recently by BNP Market Research and compiled from answers given by readers of Floor Trends,Floor Covering Installer, Stone World, Contemporary Stone & Tile Designand Tile Magazine, offers a look at a flooring market poised for continued growth.
Compared to 2013, a majority of respondents (54%) felt sales had slightly increased in 2014; an additional 20% believed sales had significantly risen. (See Chart 1)
More than half of respondents said 2013 flooring sales were over $500,000, including 5% with sales of $20 million or more; 21% seeing sales of $1.5 to $19.99 million; 18% with sales of $750,000 to $1.49 million, and 11% seeing sales of $500,000 to $749,000.
Overall flooring market. Looking at the overall picture, 89% of respondents said they primarily sell tile/stone, followed closely by resilient/vinyl/LVT (80%), carpet (79%), hardwood (77%) and laminate (76%). Trailing behind was area rugs, at 40%. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they sell all categories but area rugs, while 35% noted they sell all six categories. Twelve percent said they sell tile and stone only.
Respondents’ showroom floor space is given over to a mix of categories, with carpet at the top (36%), followed by tile/stone (25%), hardwood (16%), resilient/vinyl/LVT (13%), laminate (8%) and area rugs (4%). Not surprisingly, the amount of space given to a category also closely mirrored its share of 2013 sales. (See Chart 2)
Residential replacement accounted for almost half of respondents’ sales (48%) followed by residential new construction (17%), commercial replacement (15%) and commercial new construction (13%). More than half of respondents (52%) believe residential sales were going to slightly increase this year. Nearly half (48%) also felt the same about commercial sales.
Area rugs. A large majority of respondents (85%) said 2013 area rug sales were less than $100,000, while close to half (48%) believe sales will remain flat this year, and 37% said a slight increase is coming. Only 3% believe the increase will be significant. Attitudes last year were almost the same, with the only significant change being 10% fewer people thought sales would slightly increase in the following year.
As far as rug sizes, the most popular sold is 5 x 8 (52%), followed by 6 x 9 (50%) and “other”—which includes 8 x 10 and custom sizes—at 42%. (See Chart 3) The vast majority of respondents (83%) sell machine-made area rugs.
Carpets. Turning their attention to carpet, over half of the respondents said their 2013 sales for the product were less than $500,000, with 20% at the $250,000 to $499,999 range, 22% at the $100,000 to $249,999 range, and 15% at less than $100,000. About half (48%) of respondents expect no change in sales this year compared to last year, while 37% expect a slight increase.
Looking at carpet product type, 89% of respondents sell carpet tile and further estimate that 28% of their carpet sales are of the “super soft” fiber type. Nylon makes up the bulk of the material at 50%, followed by polyester (37%), wool (10%) and “other” (3%) which includes olefin and SmartStrand products. (See Chart 4)
The overall perception of carpet ranked high with respondents (62%). Also in the 60% range was ease of installation (67%), product durability (66%) and product styling available (62%).
Hardwood. The majority of respondents (55%) saw less than $100,000 in hardwood sales last year. Sales trends were a mixed bag. Forty percent of respondents believe hardwood sales have seen a slight increase this year, while 37% see sales as flat. Last year, 52% of respondents believed sales would slightly increase in the following year and 27% thought they would be flat.
The top-selling species remains red oak (43% in 2014; 48% in 2013), followed by hickory (24% in 2014; 27% in 2013). Other types of wood floors were virtually indistinguishable in sales between the two years, with bamboo and white oak both at 7% in both years, maple rising to 6% from 4% in 2013, Brazilian cherry dropping to 4% from 7% in 2013, walnut rising to 4% from no showing in 2013, and cork, pine and “other exotics” including Acacia rising to 2% from no showing in 2013. (See Chart 5)
Most respondents chose mills/national brands for their hardwood flooring needs (79%), with a smooth/glossy finish winning out at 52%, followed by rustic/distressed (43%) and an oil finish trailing behind at 5%.
The overall perception of the category was seen as very good or excellent by 67% of respondents. Also in the 60% range were product styling available (63%) and popularity with consumers (62%).
Laminate. Laminate sales were less than $100,000 for 69% of respondents, while sales trends were very similar between last year and this year. Thirty-six percent of respondents felt laminate sales would remain flat this year; 34% had the same opinion last year. Twenty-eight percent think sales will slightly increase this year; 25% felt the same last year. (See Chart 6)
Mill/national brands account for 80% of laminate sales among respondents, while wood-look designs continue to lead the pack at 88% of laminate flooring sold.
Laminate ranks highly for ease of installation (64%), but less than 50% for attributes including cost to the customer (49%), product styling available (48%) and product durability (44%).
Resilient/vinyl/LVT. A little over half of respondents (53%) saw sales of less than $100,000 for resilient in 2013. However, with interest in the category continuing to heat up, 63% of respondents believe sales will increase this year over last year, compared to 60% believing sales would be up in 2013 compared to the previous year.
LVT/LVP was the top resilient product type sold (95%), followed closely by VCT (92%) and sheet (87%). Other product types within the segment surveyed included fiberglass (62%), felt (39%), linoleum (34%) and “other,” including self-stick products (2%). (See Chart 7)
When selecting resilient flooring, respondents overwhelming chose mills/national brands (86%) and plank formats (62%). Two product attributes ranked at nearly 70%: Product durability and product styling available (both at 69%). Ease of installation and popularity with consumers also tied at 49%.
Tile/stone. Thirty-nine percent of respondents saw less than $100,000 in tile/stone sales in 2013. However, 48% expect a slight increase in sales this year and 15% expect a significant increase. This is comparable to last year, where 42% felt there would be a slight increase and 16% thought the increase would be significant.
A vast majority (78%) of respondents choose tile/stone from a mill/national brand. Sold by type, porcelain tile accounts for 50% of sales, followed by ceramic tile (29%), stone (20%) and other (less than 1%).
Domestic U.S. tile/stone also leads at 50% of respondents, followed by Italian (19%), Mexican (8%), Chinese, Spanish and Turkish (all at 7%), and Brazilian (3%). (See Chart 8)
Overall perception of the category is high at 65%. Concerning specific attributes, product durability measured at 89% and product styling available reached 76%. Two other attributes hit 50% or higher: Popularity with consumers (58%) and eco-friendliness (50%).
Social media and the Internet. To get a complete picture of the retailer in today’s market, the survey asked questions in relation to a respondent’s social media and Internet presence.
Nearly half of respondents (46%) said they feature their business both through a website and a social media presence, while 23% said they have only a website and 5% said they only have a social media presence.
Despite the continued importance of the Internet for businesses looking to build their brands, a full quarter of respondents said they have neither a website nor a social media presence. (See Chart 9) When asked to rate the relative usefulness of having an Internet presence, respondents chose keeping a company website at 45% compared to 25% for social media.
Editor’s note:For more information or to order a full copy of the 2014 Floor TrendsFlooring Industry Study, contact Ulka Bhide, senior market research analyst, at email@example.com or (248) 786-1678.