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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: UPHOLSTERY: Star of the Show

Honey, we need a new couch,” is the phrase that’s inspired many home decorating projects in recent decades. As the principal player in most living areas and the spot where everyone relaxes, the sofa (and chairs/loveseat) influence everything around them. Whether driven by a desire for upgraded comfort or style, updating the couch frequently leads to a whole-home makeover–or at least a few coordinating purchases.

Today’s leading upholstery designs address modern living requirements. Life stage continues to dictate consumer shopping patterns, particularly when it comes to sofa size. Sofas with a smaller footprint appeal to young adults just starting out as well as retirement-age generations downsizing to condominiums and smaller houses. Conversely, bigger is often better for growing families and multigenerational living where everyone wants a place to put their feet up. Mega sectionals and plush, oversized models offering deep comfort appeal to all ages. Post-pandemic, the sofa is no longer just where consumers watch TV. With travel still tracking lower than previous years, home is where Americans hang out. The rise of working from home and online learning translates to the sofa’s additional roles as office and classroom. Together, these factors are driving greater requirements for comfort, functionality and versatility in upholstered furniture.

“The consumer today wants and deserves to have it all,” says Anthony Teague, executive vice president of Jackson Furniture. “Not only do they want furniture that is fashionable, but they expect comfort..and we deliver on both ends of that spectrum every day.”

At Luxfort Home, models such as the Jolliet CloudPower zero-wall clearance motion sectional are successful for their ability to deliver form and function. “The Jolliet CloudPower sectional is a trifecta combination of the best seating comfort, best-looking stationary style and new power motion functionality,” says president Lee Boone.

Style continues to be a major factor influencing upholstery purchases. In covers, retail floors previously covered in gray and greige are beginning to show hints of color–particularly with warmer neutrals such as camel and tan reemerging. White and off-white have replaced gray in the modern farmhouse/ cottage lifestyle look– making the durability and cleanability of performance fabrics even more desirable as white covers dominate the style scene. Interior design directions illustrate how solid fabrics (versus prints) prevail– but not just any solid fabrics. Whether they prefer updated traditional, transitional, cottage, coastal, BoHo or soft modern looks–consumers are gravitating to touchably soft constructions. Solids with texture are in-demand, with boucle, chenille, velvets and teddy bear-inspired textured constructions trending across all style categories. “The Lisbon chair is a beautiful bridge between fashion and lifestyle, connecting the elegance of what you wear to the grace of where you live,” says AICO president David Koehler. “With its balance of texture and contrast, it resonates with style-conscious consumers.”

Based on the FurnitureCore Model developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, research shows the upholstery category has maintained its steady climb, finishing 2022 with $64.58 billion in sales, up from $59.77 billion in 2021–an increase of 8.0%. Although demand across all durable goods is slowing, upholstery sales in the second quarter of 2023 were 2.5% higher than the previous quarter.

With sales of $32.77 in 2023 Q2 year-todate, the upholstery category accounts for approximately 35.2% of total furniture industry sales.

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