From Home Furnishing Business
Magic Carpet Ride Ahead?
By Larry Thomas
Continuing a pattern of slow, but steady growth, area rugs kept pace with nearly all other home furnishings categories last year amid the often turbulent election-year retail climate.
That wasn’t surprising since furniture and rug purchases often go hand-in-hand, but many rug company executives believe the bevy of products launched at January trade shows – particularly the Atlanta International Area Rug Market and the Las Vegas Market – could help send the category to new heights.
Executives say blues and neutrals remain the dominant colors – known as colorways in the rug world -- on most top-selling rugs, but rugs containing splashes of brighter colors have worked their way onto the best-seller lists of several vendors.
“Our hand-tufted and hand-knotted rugs continue to evolve with changing and modern color palettes, bringing an updated look and feel to traditional interiors and providing texture and sophistication to modern environments,” said Satya Tiwari, president of Surya.
However, he noted that modern color palettes are no longer limited to hand-made products, which typically carry a high retail price tag.
“With our new machine-made rugs, great ‘high-end’ design is within the reach of more people,” Tiwari said. “What’s possible in rug design continues to inspire us every day to create ever more relevant designs that are so well in tune with home design and color trends.”
Research by Impact Consulting Services, parent company of Home Furnishings Business, shows that retail sales of area rugs totaled an estimated $5.49 billion in 2016, a 3.7% increase from 2015. Furniture and bedding sales growth was slightly slower, rising 3.4% to an estimated $95.68 billion in 2016.
For the first three quarters of 2016, area rug sales growth outpaced furniture and bedding growth more significantly, rising 4.2% from the first three quarters of 2015. During that same period, furniture and bedding retail sales grew just 3.1%.
In fairness, the furniture and bedding figure was dragged down by bedding sales, which grew a meager 1.3% in the first three quarters of 2016, according to Impact Consulting research. When bedding is taken out of the mix, furniture retail sales were up 4.1%, just 0.1% below area rug growth in the first three quarters of 2016.
It’s Not All Blue and Neutral
Additional research by Impact Consulting, including a survey of consumers who recently purchased an area rug, bears out manufacturers’ focus on blue and neutral colorways – but indicates the door should be left open for some brighter hues. According to the survey, 36% said neutral was the dominant color of their new rug, while 24% said it was blue.
Interestingly, 24% also said red was the dominant color, but no other color was named by more than 8% of those surveyed.
The survey indicated design trends are not as clearly defined as color trends. Some 24% said geometric was the overall design element, but another 20% each said solid and contemporary print was the main element, and another 16% said it was a traditional print.
Florals and zig-zags garnered 8% each, while stripes were mentioned by just 4% of those surveyed.
If the increased interest in brighter colors and non-solid design patterns continues, executives say it wouldn’t be the first time for such an occurrence. Capel Rugs, for example, said they saw significant growth in those areas last year, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year by bringing out two colorful collections inspired by products that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
One is a collection of braided rugs that gives “the original colonial design a modern spin,” while the other is based on a design that was selected for the World Floor Covering Assn. Hall of Fame in 1978.
“Our theme for the centennial celebration is ‘100 years of heritage in every rug’,” said Cameron Capel, vice president of national accounts. “One hundred years in business is a major milestone, and it underscores our long tradition of providing the very best quality, service and customer satisfaction.”
Who Needs the Internet?
Unlike furniture, where internet research is king, 40% of the recent rug purchasers surveyed said they did no internet research before making their purchase. Some 20% said they did one to two hours of internet research, while another 32% said they spent two to four hours.
The relative lack of internet research suggests an area rug is often purchased as an add-on during or shortly after a furniture purchase. Some 84% of those surveyed said they bought their rug after buying furniture, and another 4% said they bought the two together. Only 12% said they bought furniture after their rug purchase.
Another casualty of the lack of internet research (and quite possibly a lack of retail sales training) is basic product knowledge, the survey also suggests. A whopping 88% of those surveyed said they did not know the country of origin of their most recent rug purchase, while 52% said they did not know what their rug was made of (wool, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, etc.).
And not surprisingly, 40% said they did not know if their rug was machine-made or hand-made.
But the interest isn’t being totally dissed by consumers buying area rugs. The survey showed that 24% of recent purchasers bought their rug on the internet, while a solid 48% said they bought it at a mass merchant such as Target or Wal-Mart. Another 12% found it at a home improvement store such as Home Depot, and only 8% made the purchase at a traditional furniture store. The final 8% used a rug specialty store, according to the survey.
Regarding price, lower price points ruled the day, as some 80% said they paid $399 or less for their rug – 40% paid less than $100 and 40% paid $100 to $399. The next-highest price category was $800 to $1,499, which was paid by 8% of those surveyed. Just 4% each reported paying $400 to $799; $1,500 to $1,999; and $2,000 and above.
Ornate distressed traditionals are modernized by illuminating colorways in this collection. Power loomed in Egypt of polypropylene and polyester, the rug is durable and easy to care for, plus it gives the appearance of being a fine rug made by hand. The intricate detail, luster of colors, and unbeatable price point establish its value.
Safavieh’s Florida Shag
Detailed tropical patterns in warm, neutral colors bring Key West flair to this collection. The high and low pile of this shag floor covering accentuates the sculpted damask vines, colored in sandy beige, for a visual display with flowing dimension. It is machine-made using plush, durable synthetic yarns for added comfort and long-lasting beauty.
Made of 100% linen, this best-seller features cut pile accents over a sumac weave. Hand-made in India, it features soft, contemporary geometric patterns blended in a series of fresh, modern neutral colorways. Available in five sizes, it is shown here in a design that utilizes space-dyed yarns.
Tufan Rugs’ Vintage
This rug features a carving design that mimics a wear-off antique rug creating a “vintage” look, which makes it suitable for modern or classic settings. This luxurious rug is a combination of cotton and polyester and is hand-made in India. The collection comes in a variety of styles, designs and colors.
Jaipur Living’s Fables
Constructed of machine-tufted viscose and chenille, the Tria design brings any space to life with a fashion-forward color palette and a sophisticated, boldly-scaled contemporary pattern. The soft texture highlights the gardenia and pumice stone colorways.
This collection of indoor/outdoor rugs is hand-made of 100% PET polyester using a unique cross-tufting to create a distressed appearance. It is shown here in the popular blue/gray colorway.
Rizzy Home’s Dimension
Utilizing an innovative construction that combines a looped background with cut pile, this collection features a textured, striation appearance and a seamless blend of traditional and contemporary design elements. It is made of hand-tufted wool with a cotton/latex backing and is available in blue, gray and ivory colorways.
Orian Rugs’ Skyline
From the Next Generation collection, Skyline brings a casual look into the home with its exquisite details. The faded colors of cream and blue switch off to make an ocean tide theme. It is soft and durable and machine-made domestically. Suggested retail for a 5 x 8 rug is $375.
Hand-knotted in India, this 100% wool rug features a low-pile construction and is available in 10 colors. It comes in four standard sizes (2 x 3, 3 x 6, 5 x 8 and 8 x 11), but custom sizes also are available.
A supernova takes shape in this rug as a spectrum of neutrals expands from the nucleus of rich platinum tones into an effusion of taupe rays on an ivory ground. With a burst of light, it brings dynamic radiance into the room. The hand-washed, hand-finished collection is machine-made of 40% wool and 60% Luxcelle.
Capel Rugs’ Simply Gabbeh
A traditional variety of the Persian carpet, tribal designs and geometric patterns are combined to create this colorful collection. It is hand-loomed in India of 100% wool and comes in four sizes.
Suggested retail for a 5 x 8 rug is $599.
Tayse Rugs’ Dakota
Part of the Festival collection, this versatile rug can be used with rustic or modern décor. Rich hues of brown, green, tan, red and blue are paired with a simple brushstroke pattern to make it suitable for virtually any room. It is machine-made with soft polypropylene fibers and jute backing.
The Fiona collection is a dramatic grouping that interprets transitional designs in a bold palette of contrasting neutrals. Power loomed in art silk, the luminous sheen lends each piece a modern edge, while erased patterns impart a hint of vintage. It is shown here in dark gray.
Kas Rugs’ Artisan
Marketed as “artwork for your floors,” rugs from this transitional collection are hand-tufted and add an element of dimension to any room. Featuring a half-inch pile height, the collection is made in India of wool and viscose.