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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: MOTION FURNITURE: A Study in Contrasts

Today’s motion furnishings are quickly evolving to meet the changing needs of consumers. In many ways, the category is a study in contrasts. From product features and covers to size and scale, the spectrum of options is nearly endless and spans the gamut of style and price. Therefore, it’s no surprise motion sales represent a healthy 36.9% share of all upholstered furniture sold in the U.S. so far this year.

Form vs Function
The longstanding battle between fashion and functionality has never been more evident than in reclining furnishings. Consumers are embracing the influx of stationary upholstery-inspired styles yet overstuffed traditional motion frames retain their place in the market. Similarly, demand is great for power motion innovations, yet manual recliners still dominate entry level price points. The fashion factor ensured by hidden buttons, cupholders and features is prized, while conversely, at the other end of the spectrum fully lit tabletops and worksurfaces are popular. When it comes to scale, more is more for consumers who equate volume with value. At the same time, many motion manufacturers are finding success with smaller silhouettes targeting apartment dwellers and downsizing boomers.

Design Options
Design directions in recliners and reclining sofas and sectionals continue to mirror the trends in stationary upholstery. “The cover is essential,” explains Marietta Wiley, vice president of merchandising and product development for Parker House. “Consumers are looking for fashionable fabrics on motion like what they’re seeing in higherend stationary upholstery—interesting textures and soft, lofty constructions.”

From sleek European styling to classic chesterfield tufting, reclining furniture encompasses every major design style. Contrasting welts, decorative stitch patterns, leather and mohair trims, and unique nailhead options are additional elements being used to elevate and distinguish motion designs. The result is an ongoing acceptance of motion sofas and chairs and their promotion from mancaves and home theaters to the living rooms of America.

This growing array of reclining options is resonating at retail. “Today’s consumer loves the ability to personalize sectionals to the perfect size and angles that enhance their living experience,” explains Anthony A. Teague, executive vice president of Jackson Furniture.

Statistically Speaking Post-pandemic sales in the motion category are holding steady. According to a FurnitureCore, Inc. survey developed by Impact Consulting Services (parent company of Home Furnishings Business), the combined upholstery category (stationary + motion), as a percent of total furniture sales, is holding at 34.1% in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 34.7% at the end of 2022 and 34.2% in 2021. Motion upholstery comprises 36.9% of all upholstery sales this year through the end of Q1—unchanged from its 2022 yearend share of 36.9% and down slightly from a 37% share in 2021.

As expected given macroeconomic changes, annual growth projections for the category are slowing. Motion upholstery is tracking 3.9% growth year to date in the first quarter of 2023—equal to the stationary upholstery category for the same time period—but down from 7.8% growth in motion sales in 2022, 24.7% growth in 2021, and 21% growth in 2020.

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