From Home Furnishing Business
What Sells: UPHOLSTERY: The Choice of Comfort
One takeaway from the last few years, is that consumers crave comfort. Whether its comfort from the clothes we buy, the food we eat or the furniture we put in our homes, comfort is never going out of style. For the leading category in home furnishings, upholstery provides comfort solutions for consumers across all styles and price points. Manufacturers and retailers are coming out of the supply chain chaos and labor shortages shaken but not defeated and looking to this year as a return to normal rather than a decline in demand. Attention to home is still relevant. Consumers still want to get comfortable on their cozy sofa, chair or sectional to stream the latest shows or movies and upholstery manufacturers and retailers are ready to provide a plethora of options in both motion and stationary.
Based on the FurnitureCore Model developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, research shows that the category has maintained its steady climb, finishing 2021 with $53.98 billion in sales and up from $43.34 billion in 2020 – a 24.6% increase. Although skyrocketing demand across all durable goods is settling down, upholstery sales in the second quarter of 2022 were still 4.6% higher than the previous quarter and 3% higher than the same quarter in 2021. With sales of $28.01 in 2022 Q2 year-to-date, the upholstery category accounts for 34.9% of the total furniture industry.
While comfort is no stranger to the world of motion furniture, manufacturers are placing great importance on bridging comfort and style. “Comfort drives our business,” says Anthony Teague, senior vice president of sales and merchandising at Jackson Catnapper. “Aesthetically, we continue to pour our efforts into creating motion that does not look like typical reclining furniture. Catnapper has been the innovator of “pillowed motion” by utilizing the comfort of a classic motion frame core, adding a more current arm treatment and covering with stereotypical stationary fabrics.”
While sleeker, more contemporary designs have gained momentum over the last decade, the majority of consumers are still choosing comfortable, cozy pieces geared toward creating a space the whole family can enjoy. When consumers were polled during a FurnitureCore survey and asked which look they selected for their most recent upholstery furniture purchase, 56.79% selected plump, overstuffed sofas with deep seating compared to 43.21% who selected a sleek, tight body cover following the line of the furniture.
The desire for comfort has also pushed the rise in popularity for sectionals. In a survey from FurnitureCore, consumers were asked why they purchased a sectional sofa and 53.93% answered to have more seating capacity, 21.35% wanted to be able to rearrange seating set-up and 51.69% responded that the sectional matched their open room layout. The ability to customize sectionals is also a growing selling point for many consumers polled in the same survey. While 60.7% purchased the sectional sofa as it was on the sales floor, 39.33% chose to customize the product.
L & JG Stickley has found success with providing consumers the ability to customize. Regarding the company’s bestselling 7000 Series Sectional, Director of Product Development Paul Peters says, “Rather than searching endlessly for the perfect sofa, chair or sectional, customers can design a piece to their exact needs and specifications. They’re excited to choose their preferred arm style, back, base, and even seat depth, finish it in their favorite fabric or leather, and add decorating details.” Whether it’s customized from top to bottom or that perfect upholstery item found right on the sales floor, manufacturers and retailers are providing consumers with the ultimate choice of comfort.