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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: THE DINING AREA: A room with no rules

The days of the dining room only being used for special occasions or to feature high-design trends and your grandmother’s china are long gone. Open floor plans literally tore the walls down as the kitchen morphed into the dining and living areas. Not every consumer embraced this trend, preferring defined spaces and the structure of each room serving its own purpose.

Now, the pandemic has stripped away any rules left for the dining category. While some consumers gravitated to rekindling family meal time around a large table, others chose to blend intimacy with functionality – creating space with smaller, cozier tables paired with arm chairs, desks or sofas. When it comes to the dining area, consumers want options. Manufacturers and retailers are called to the challenge by supplying a variety of products to fit an array of needs.

When consumers were polled during a FurnitureCore survey (FurnitureCore is a sister company of Home Furnishings Business) and asked the area they most recently purchased dining room furniture for, 71.32% said a casual dining area and 28.68% said a formal dining room. The desire to incorporate a versatile dining space has led to a rise in contemporary and modern dining room furniture. During the same consumer research, FurnitureCore asked consumers what style of furniture they had in their casual dining room area. 40.74% answered contemporary, followed by 29.49% with traditional, 11.8% with country/ rustic and 6.7% with country/European. The categories of mission/shaker, cottage, and transitional each accounted for 3.75% of consumer response.

Always popular are dining tables that can serve both small family dinners and large gatherings. Stickley has found success with its bestselling Walnut Grove Table that expands from 74” to 110”. “Customers old and new have flocked to the Walnut Grove Collection and are making new family memories around the rectangular dining table and chairs. The blend of mid-century modern and Scandinavian design is fresh and appealing,” said Matt Target, director of marketing for Stickley. Greenington’s bestselling collection with an expandable table also bridges contemporary design with functionality. According to Vice President of Sales Troy Lerew, “the Erikka Collection provides a modern design with timeless appeal. Our dealers will tell you that it provides the perfect solution for any size dining room.”

The dining room has become a hybrid space used for what people need at different times in their lives and for many that is still the formal dining room. Tradition, paired with European design, is driving the success of Hooker Furniture’s current bestseller. Mike Harris, president of Hooker Upholstery and Case Goods says, “Commanding attention in any space, the Castella Table is a European-inspired, traditional piece that pairs seamlessly with wood and upholstered dining chairs alike. Its size and scale are perfect for entertaining, and its soft, rustic finish works well with several variations of décor.”

Whether the style is traditional, modern or country and being used for office space, homework, a dinner party of eight or a small family dinner, consumers are now putting dining room furniture in all different living areas of the house. Consumers were asked by FurnitureCore to choose from a list of activities that their family does in the dining room/kitchen in addition to eating. Sit at table/talk received 77.44%, followed by watch TV at 45.51%, pay bills at 42.83%, do hobbies at 36.52%, do school work at 28.30%, and do work brought from the office at 27.72%.

In line with other furniture categories, dining room furniture sales have skyrocketed over the last year. Based on the FurnitureCore Industry Model, developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, research shows that the dining room category has increased steadily since 2019, finishing 2021 with $14.96 billion in sales, up from $12.62 billion in 2020 and $11.44 billion in 2019. While sales dipped 2.4% from $3.73 billion in Q1 of 2021 to $3.64 billion in Q2, sales rebounded by 7.1% from $3.66 billion in Q3 to $3.92 billion in the final quarter of last year. Whatever you call the space you put your fabulous new table and/or chairs in, the dining category is not going anywhere.

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