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From Home Furnishing Business

The Outside World

By Sheila Long O’mara

Despite what that pesky groundhog had to share last month, spring is just around the corner. With its return, spring will usher in the urge for consumers to shed winter coats, buds to push through warmer earth and garden parties filled with brightly colored tulips. Just one or two (let’s hope) residual snow storms left before dining al fresco under a pergola or relaxing by an outdoor fire pit makes their long-awaited return.

One sure sign of spring’s arrival—retail floors are filling with outdoor furnishings. Sofas with plush cushions; tables with brightly colored umbrellas and plenty of space for friends.

According to a Home Furnishings Business survey conducted in late January, consumers continue to spruce up their outdoor living spaces and make them true extensions of their homes’ interiors. Consumers participating in the survey had purchased outdoor furniture within the last year or so. More than 80 percent of those surveyed said they made their purchase to either replace an old outdoor furniture collection (50.8 percent) or to add to an existing collection (29.5 percent). Those purchases weren’t made without a bit of due diligence and Internet research by the consumers. Nearly 43 percent spent between two and seven hours digging into outdoor furnishings prior to making their purchase. Once the online research was completed, our panel took a bit of time to find just the right thing for their homes. More than 60 percent of our shoppers took between one and four weeks to close the deal.

Shopping Versus Buying

In the research stage, consumers shopped a variety of channels in their hunt for outdoor furnishings. More than 57 percent shopped the home improvement chains, like The Home Depot or Lowe’s, while only 21 percent shopped traditional furniture stores. That was the lowest score falling behind outdoor furniture specialty stores (36.1 percent), the Internet (37.7 percent) and mass merchants, like Walmart and Target (49.2 percent).

When it came to the buying, traditional furniture retailers fell farther behind. Only 6.6 percent of our consumers—the lowest percentage—bought their outdoor furniture from a traditional furniture retailer. Instead, they bought from home improvement stores (37.7 percent), mass merchants (23 percent), outdoor furniture specialty stores (19.7 percent) and the Internet (13.1 percent). Perhaps the reason for the high purchasing rates at mass merchants and home improvement stores is the fact that they stock what they sell. The immediacy factor allows consumers to shop in the morning, take it home and host a backyard barbecue all in the same day. More than 80 percent of our consumers purchased store stock for their outdoor areas, while the remaining ones opted to custom order their selections.

What Retailers Say

Northcape International’s Charleston Woven Sofa

This is a great value with domestic Sunbrella fabric cushions made in Chicago. It features an Aluminum frame with high-quality poly-resin. Sofa retails at $1199.99.

Kyle Johansen
HOM Furniture
Coon Rapids, Michigan

Tropitone’s Montreux Collection

 “This group has a great Tropitone story and offers

special orders in three weeks. It’s a great style.”

$2499.99 for a five-piece sling dining set with stone-works table.

Kyle Johansen
HOM Furniture
Coon Rapids, Michigan

Woodsource’s Sunset Cliffs Collection


This group is cast aluminum and powder coated. The group is in ‘safe’ color cover, brown and tan striped, and has a variety of pieces. We offer four different dining table options – a 52 inch round, rectangular, counter height and a dining table with a fire pit in the middle. We offer a standard cast aluminum chair with a seat cushion as well as a sling chair. Our seating options in the collection are expansive.” $999.99 for a five-piece grouping with a round table and four chairs.

Megann Handley
Jerome’s Furniture
San Diego


What Suppliers Say

The Cloud by Gloster

Reminiscent of contemporary interior upholstery, Gloster’s Cloud group continues to be a winner. Cloud is the epitome of functionality with its modular pieces based on five different style base frames. The collection gives consumers an endless amount of options and configurations to fit any available space.

Homecrest’s Lana with Lunar Fire Table

The Lana spring base chaise is the perfect fit conversation around a fire pit, paired up on a porch or as a dining option. The Lana spring base chaise is proportioned and positioned for relaxation. Designed with support to easily enter and exit the piece, and the chairs are perfect for a relaxing nap or a good book. The Lunar Fire Table offers an embossed leather aluminum top and can be customized in one or two color combinations on the top, frame and side panels.

Tropitone’s Montreux Urcomfort Collection

The Montreux collection with its adaptable design has been a winner for Tropitone. Here the company has paired it with its URComfort seating that moves with the body. “Whether you are sitting at a table in a dining chair or relaxing in a swivel action lounger with your feet on an ottoman, URconfort finds the most comfortable position for you,” said Mark Gorr, vice president of product managemen and consumer sales. “And it stays in that position unless you want to move. Then it moves with you. URComfort is an elegant fusion of design and engineering.”

English Garden Collection by Pride Family Brands

The collection offers lasting leisure in cast aluminum. The crescent share of the collection provides ease of conversation and also eliminates the appearance of straight lines. The Castelle fire pit coordinates with a number of Pride Family Brand collections, including English Garden. Cast aluminum top and leg elements, hand-woven base and a propane fire mechanism and warmth to outdoor rooms.

Century Furniture’s Andalusia Group

The Andalusia Collection designer by Richard Frinier reimagines what an outdoor space can be. The collection gives consumers the ability to create a casual, beautiful retreat in their own backyards.

Janus Et Cie’s Janus Living Collection

Available in multiple finishes and as a stocking program for quick delivery, the collection continues to be a winner for Janus et Cie and its retail partners. The Joe armchair shown here with a teak table, offers a classic bucket-style seating atop chrome polished, steel legs. The collection offers 21 items, eight finishes and four fabrics to offer a customized approach to living.

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