Our exclusive year-end survey of 310 dealers and
contractors shows the effects of the severe real estate slump. The result: 70%
of retailers surveyed say their builder and new construction business was down
last year. The average fall off was nearly 40%.
Having weathered an avalanche of bad
financial news and witnessed a sharp drop in sales, people in the flooring
business will have plenty on their minds during our industry’s most important
event. But, as the show begins, I want to make a modest proposal: Let’s try and
keep Surfaces--the entire show floor, the workshops and meeting rooms--free
from needless griping and complaining (or kvetching as they say in
Yiddish). A dour mood is contagious and it accomplishes nothing; and believe
me, there is much to be done at Surfaces ‘09.
assessment was dead on: “We can’t cut or save our way out of a recession,” said
Manny Llerena, Mohawk’s vp retail marketing during a meeting with the press
last month at the company’s Floorscapes convention. He maintained that a much
better approach is to inspire consumers and tap into the passion they feel for
their homes. People are staying in (or cocooning). Also, thanks in large part
to the bevy of home improvement shows now seen on cable TV, they are far more
aware of their interior design options. Marry those two unmistakable trends and
a savvy retailer can move to higher ground. The focus shifts from cutting
prices to creating someone’s dream house.
In a move that combines the resources of hardwood flooring’s top two trade groups, the National Wood Flooring Association has absorbed the Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association, (NOFMA). Ed Korczak, executive director and CEO of the 4,000-member NWFA, will oversee the newly expanded St. Louis-based organization. He noted that NOFMA, which was founded nearly 100 years ago and was based in Memphis, Tenn., has been officially dissolved as a corporate entity. The group’s certification program will retain the NOFMA name and be continued under the direction of the NWFA, he added.
First off: Happy Holidays from
the staff of National Floor Trends.
With only a couple of weeks left in the year, many
in the flooring industry are eager to say good riddance to 2008. We are
all looking forward to a new year that will bring a new outlook and new
opportunities. I think it is safe to say we all have had enough of the
gloomy economic news that will forever be associated with the year now
drawing to a close.
Flooring’s CEO Frank Ready called the other day to chat about his company’s
decision to participate in Surfaces early next year. After sitting out the Las
Vegas show for the past four years, Armstrong has agreed to set up a product
showroom in the Venetian Hotel, a short walk from the show floor. While Ready
told me a traditional booth “still does not make sense for us,” the decision to
have an official presence at our industry’s most important gathering is very
welcome news. It also reflects the company’s determination to battle back
against challenges that beset the floor covering business. And Armstrong is not
alone. In ways large and small we continue to see key players in this industry
take decisive action.
The typical floor
covering retailer is selling less carpet, but is bringing in more money on each
transaction. In our new survey, dealers said they average about 60 carpet
transactions a month. While the figure is a decline from two years ago when the
average was 69, during the same time frame the price per carpet transaction
climbed from $2,400 to $3,509. Meanwhile, the number of retailers who reported
annual carpet sales in excess of $1 million rose from 28% of those in the
survey two years ago to 37% today
know what I like most about flooring? It is the very definition of grace under
pressure. The vast array of products sold by our industry are designed to
withstand years of daily pounding, spills, dropped items, extreme
temperatures…whatever you got, sooner or later it hits the floor. Also,
considering its prominence in any décor, a top quality floor has to do all this
and still look good, day-after-day, year-after-year. These are qualities that serve
our industry well-especially now. We all know business has been sluggish so
maybe now is a good time remember there are a great many things to be thankful
for in the flooring industry. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving…
That is the way a top exec at USG described the current environment last week during a conference call with reporters. Of course we are all aware of the sour economy, but "unprecedented" is still a mighty powerful word. It suggests we have entered uncharted territory.
The good news for
those working in the tile and stone segment is that even in the face of a
challenging environment, there are clear signs that the category is strong and
poised for increased sales in the near future. The 242 retailers participating
in our exclusive survey confirm that the wide assortment of tile and stone
products remains a core element of their merchandise mix and an area they
frequently pitch to their customers.