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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: Evolution of Motion

A long with a multitude of uncertainty, the past year has strengthened the desire for comfort. Stuck in our homes for many months, we have looked not only to upgrade and beautify our spaces, but also to maintain a place to relax and binge our favorite shows. And furniture that incorporates both comfort and style is key.

As manufacturers keep finding new ways to balance these desires, the motion/recliner category continues to increase its share of upholstery. Whether it’s a recliner with all the bells and whistles — massage and heating, wifi connectivity, food trays, and even a six-pack cooler in the armrest — or a motion sofa that looks stationary, there is something for everyone.

When creating a motion piece that is both relaxed and refined, manufacturers must be careful not to sacrifice the comfort of traditional recliners. As Anthony Teague, SVP of merchandising for Jackson/Catnapper, points out when describing the company’s best-selling Calvin sofa, “We often talk about the ascension of the motion sofa from the basement to the living room, and the Calvin epitomizes the meaning of that statement. The secret to the more ‘stationary-looking’ motion Catnapper has successfully launched across the country is the fact that the category is still anchored around comfort. So many attempts at making reclining sofas that don’t look like ‘motion’ have failed because they are not giving the consumer the one thing they expect from motion — a great seating experience.”

Balancing comfort with the style of stationary has also led to success for Nice Link Home Furnishings. According to President Jay Carlson, “Our leather power motion and recliner are top sellers because they both provide comfort and convenience in a fashionable, high-leg stationary design.”

According to a FurnitureCore, Inc., survey developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, 57.7% of consumers surveyed felt that the style of reclining furniture was an inhibitor to their purchase in the category. In the same study, consumers were asked to pick the top four items they have now or would want to have in their next reclining product.

The results were heat/massage at 58.41%, followed by automated adjustable headrest and lumbar supports at 58.10%, storage drawer at 49.21%, hidden tabletop at 45.08%, docking station for telephone at 31.75%, built-in remote at 28.25%, built-in beverage cooler at 27.62%, and surround sound system at 26.98%.

While upholstery, as a percent of total furniture sales, has dropped slightly from 2019 to 2020, the motion category continues to increase its share of upholstery sales — up to 13.7% when combined with leather motion, according to a FurnitureCore Industry model.

Recliners as a sub-category have dipped down to 8.35% in 2020 from 9.09% in 2019, but the motion/recliner category finished out 2020 with 22.09% of furniture sales compared to 21.22% in 2018. The model also shows the growth of motion within the upholstery category – jumping to 23.56% in 2020 from 21.66% in 2019 and 21.39% in 2018.

With more manufacturers and retailers evolving with consumers to find that perfect balance of comfort and style, the sky is the limit for the motion/ retailer category.

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