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Showing posts from September, 2010

Floor covering consumers turn cautious

FLOOR COVERING STATISTICAL TRENDS AND OUTLOOK How was your flooring business this summer? Was it disappointing? Did customer counts come in lower than anticipated? Did buyers express even more preference for “value” products? Where did the optimism go for a 2010 recovery? I was optimistic earlier in the year when I posted "Catalina says U.S. Flooring Industry Set For Spring Thaw-Who Will Benefit?". In that April post I indicated that there would be a recovery in the second quarter and the recovery would accelerate over the entire year. Recent data shows that there was a 4.3% increase in U.S. manufacturer square foot floor coverings sales in the second quarter over the previous year. This was the first increase in U.S. demand in almost four years as retailers restocked in anticipation of rising consumer floor coverings purchases. However, as a warm spring turned into a hot summer, a series of events turned your customers cautious. The following events turned a spr

Floor Covering's New World Order Online

How relevant do you consider the web to you and the floor covering industry? I consider it significant. I believe that access to information online is paving the way to a new world order. In case you haven't yet had an epiphany similar to David Wootton's in Flooring and the Internet - Now I’m a Believer ,  I'd like to put this new world order into consumer and business context and get your reactions. When you're in the market for a product or service, how do you go about getting information before purchasing? Do you get into your car and drive around? Or do you sit down in front of your computer and type in Internet search terms in an online search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing? I start online. Even if I plan on driving around, I'll start at the computer to double-check locations, hours of operations, availability of parking [or access to public transportation] and to confirm product selection. Even for flooring. The more complex the purchase, the more

Floor covering shows - the great treasure hunt

I’ve been in the floor covering industry for over 40 years and along the way I’ve been labeled with a few nicknames.  When I bought Color Tile, Jon Trivers nicknamed me “Jimmy the Grout.” At CCA they called me the “Cork King” because I loved cork flooring.  As their Chief Product Officer I could have covered my office floor with any product but I chose cork which, at the time, was unique.  It was quiet, resilient, warm, wore well and, most importantly, that floor encouraged people to think outside of their paradigm. I think that is the same reason I love going to Domotex Germany and Domotex Asia China Floor every year -  because what I see challenges what we hold as the norm in North America. When carpet still had over 70% of the floor covering market here, Scandinavia’s carpet market had fallen to 10% share!  While Americans were stuck displaying carpet on waterfall fixtures, Europeans were using sophisticated lighting and design to showcase carpet as fashion.  While sheet vinyl w

Leveraging opportunities - two strategies for flooring retailers in a downturn

Consumer confidence, perhaps the best gauge for retail, continues to deteriorate. The headline from Floor Covering Weekly’s recent issue said it all: “ Year three of downturn deals biggest blow yet.” You, like most businesses in the flooring industry, have probably cut to the bone in order to survive.  Considering it is unlikely to get much better any time soon, it may feel like it's time to carve the marrow. The new normal is crueler than anyone imagined. But, the act of cutting costs should not be your only resolve.  Growing market share has to be part of your strategy now. As Stuart Hirschhorn pointed out last month in "Strategies for increasing your floor covering market share," any strategy to grow business "must include a goal to increase market share." And growing market share is easiest when your competition is hurting. Consider these two strategies for leveraging new marketing and merchandising opportunities:  Examine Your Aligned Buying Associat