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From Home Furnishing Business

Child's Play

 By: Sheila Long O'mara

The youth category of home furnishings is in a bit of turmoil of late with two leading vendors either exiting or looking to exit the business.

Stanley Furniture Co. announced plans in April to shutter its Young America line, and about a month later, La-Z-Boy said it was seeking a buyer for its Lea Inds. youth business.

Those two business decisions have other youth suppliers feeling optimistic about future business for that segment of their portfolios, as the landscape continues to change. Based on Home Furnishings Business’ latest consumer survey, the category continues to resonate with parents looking to outfit their kids’ rooms with furniture. After all, the little people in the house need a place to sleep, study and play.

Our panel consisted of 125 furniture-buying consumers who had all purchased furnishings for a child’s room within the last 18 months. Most of those buyers—76.2 percent—bought furniture for children who were older than 3. In other words, they were out of the crib and into a twin or perhaps, a full bed.

The kids who were old enough were given some input into how their rooms were furnished. Almost 43 percent of the consumers said the children were “moderately influential” in choosing the type and style of product bought. Another 23.8 percent said their children were “extremely influential” in the purchase decision.

The takeaway here? Designing—and buying—somewhat from a kid’s point of view could help sway purchase decisions, as long as the designs aren’t too over the top for Mom’s taste.

From our survey, it appears that parents (and to somewhat the kids) were swayed mostly by product in the traditional vein. Almost 48 percent bought traditionally styled goods, followed by 34.9 percent with contemporary designs. While those two style genres led the parade, mission (9.5 percent), rustic (4.8 percent) and cottage (3.2 percent) all made it on the board.

When it comes to paying for the goods, our consumers were pretty certain on the amount they wanted to (and did) spend. Nearly 78 percent said they paid between $500 and $2,500. Breaking it down a bit further, 20.6 percent said they paid between $1,501 and $2,000 for a complete room; and 19 percent paid between $751 and $1,000.

Parents have their eye set on future use when acquiring furniture for use in kids’ rooms. Longevity is key when it comes to purchasing.

Only 29 percent said the purchase would only be for use during childhood. Almost 32 percent said they made the purchase in hopes that one day the furniture could be used in a guest room. Another 32 percent said they hoped the child could use the furniture either during college or in a first apartment.

Along with future use plans, our consumers didn’t skimp on furnishings the space. Almost 78 percent said they furnished the room with “stylish, good quality furniture.” That holds in line with the plan to repurpose the furnishings. Only 14.8 percent said they had given other rooms in the house higher priority for furnishings.

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