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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: MOTION FURNITURE: Front and Center

The big and bulky recliner with the wooden lever, once considered Dad or Grandpa’s chair, has morphed into an entire category of motion furniture. Now attracting consumers who previously swore they would never allow reclining furniture in their living room, sleek designs and premium materials paired with cutting-edge technology continue to widen the motion furniture consumer base. No longer banished to the basement, reclining furniture has become front and center in many consumer’s homes.

As one of the fasted growing categories in the furniture industry, motion furniture and recliners accounted for 47.4% of total upholstery sales in 2021, according to the FurnitureCore Industry Model, developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business. Research also shows that sales of motion sofas and chairs increased by 32.6% from 2020 to 2021 and recliner sales grew by 26.1% during the same time period. Overall, the upholstery category increased by 24.6% from 2020 to 2021. Although stationary upholstery is still the majority of total upholstery sales (52.6%), motion sofas and chairs accounted for 30.4% and recliners for 17.0% in 2021, both categories increasing their shares from 2020.

The desire for furniture that incorporates both style and comfort has only increased since the pandemic. Gaining in popularity for years now, reclining sectionals provide an abundance of seating and functions to fit every need. According to Cheryl Sigmon, vice president of merchandising and product development at Bradington-Young, “Sectionals are becoming more and more important now that people are spending more time together at home with family and friends.” The company’s best-selling Raiden sectional “stands out not only for its tailored good looks, but its exceptional comfort, thanks to spring-down cushioning and the plush, two-piece back which offers great back and lumbar support.”

Bridging style with comfort has proved successful for Catnapper. As Anthony Teague points out when describing the company’s best-selling Sydney sectional, “Combining function and fashion has been the key to our growth in this category of motion furniture, as we continue to strive to get motion out of the basement and into the living room with sleek designs and tasteful fabrics.”

While more consumers are finding options in the motion and reclining category, lack of a desired style can still be a deterrent. According to a FurnitureCore, Inc., survey developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, 54.73% of consumers surveyed considered the style of reclining furniture an inhibitor to their purchase in the category but 45.27% did not see it as an inhibitor.

Not only are manufacturers striving to create a multitude of style options, but many also continue to increase technology integration into their motion furniture. Many pieces now include motorized recliners, storage spaces and USB ports. The technology keeps changing to keep up with how we live.

Consumers were asked by FurnitureCore 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%.

However, even with all the fancy buttons and power options, many consumers still prefer the hand operated lever. In the same survey, consumers were asked which mechanism they preferred as a reclining method for reclining furniture and 51.43% chose a hand operated mechanism, followed by power operated mechanism at 30.48% and body pressure mechanism (the push back method) at 18.10%.

Regardless of whether consumers want a traditional recliner with puffy arms and a wooden lever or a chair with all the power options in a sleek, smaller design, there is something for everyone. As this category continues to grow, rest assured, we will see motion and reclining furniture front and center.


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