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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: Uplifting Upholstery

When the whole family is at home working, learning, and living, there is no better place to relax together than the family room where a plush sofa or sectional is sure to be found. Over the last several months, many families have continued their home isolation as the coronavirus continues to sweep the nation. As a result, the comfiest place in the home has seen a lot more use. Whether the sofa has seen better days or the family has simply outgrown the furniture and is looking for additional seating, there is a single uplifting solution—upholstery, of course! The category has remained stable despite the turmoil of 2020.

Based on a FurnitureCore, Inc. Industry Model developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, the broad upholstery category has maintained its 34% of total furniture and bedding sales compared to the same quarter last year (Q2/2019). Manufacturers have certainly noted the sustained demand bolstered by the current reality of increased time at home and have weighed in on what consumers are searching for.

“Our collections are rooted in uncomplicated luxury, designed for spaces that are real, relaxed, and refined,” said Jay Peters, vice president of merchandising at Standard Furniture. “And, now more than ever, we find consumers are asking for easy, comfortable pieces that provide a sense of home, creating a space that the whole family can enjoy.” Suzanne Henson, vice president of merchandising and marketing at Craftmaster Furniture, expands on how home life has been impacted and how product demand has been reshaped, saying, “The COVID situation is definitely bringing a greater focus to life at home.

Along with a huge increase in overall demand, we’re seeing a few distinct trends emerging. First, the demand for fast delivery is so important. Because of the rising tide in business, retailers are having issues keeping stock on their floor, and manufacturers are scrambling to keep their delivery times from going out too far. So any product we can deliver quickly to a retailer is a hot commodity and means the retailer can keep their floors refreshed. Second, we see even more demand for customizable sectional groups. Consumers have fewer distractions right now and are able to spend some time creating custom pieces that work specifically for their room.” Again, a keystone to the success of this category— the sectional— is magnified.

“Nothing seems to be more compelling at retail right now than sectionals,” says Anthony A. Teague, senior vice president of sales and merchandising at Jackson Catnapper. “In stationary seating, sectionals represent four of our top six selling items and we wanted to translate that success to the motion category. We believe by using fabric combinations that are more commonly associated with stationary, we are bringing a new customer to the motion category and the proof has been evident in the numbers.”

Whether the consumer is looking for a stationary or motion solution for their new reality, a survey conducted by FurnitureCore helps define additional factors related to consumer purchases in the category. Shoppers were polled on their preferred style of upholstered furniture and found that a vast majority (56.25%) preferred traditional stylings. Second was contemporary at 28.13%, followed by rustic at 6.25%. Mission/shaker, cottage, and transitional tied with each at 3.13%. Additionally, the survey analyzed which look the consumer finds preferable in upholstered furniture. 59.38% favors plump, overstuffed deep seating while the remaining 40.63% prefer a sleek, tight body cover following the lines of furniture.

Most importantly as we face delays in today’s COVID-world, the survey polled consumers on how long they would be willing to wait for a custom order sofa. This survey pre-dates the pandemic, but may lend some insight into wait times for more standard SKUs as the industry gains momentum following mandatory shutdowns across the country and abroad. The survey found that most consumers (40.63%) are willing to wait two weeks to a month for a custom sofa, 15.63% are willing to wait 1-3 months, 6.25% are willing to wait 3-6 months, and 3.13% are able to wait more than 6 months. The remaining 34.38% are only willing to wait less than 2 weeks. The demand is there. The following products are sure to help uplift the consumer’s spirits and satisfy their need for a comfy family area.

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