Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do floor covering industry trends concern or include you?

Research tells us that consumers place little value on flooring.  Is this the fault of manufacturers, distributors or retailers?  Does it concern you that the fastest growing entities in the industry are home centers and Lumber Liquidators?  Can independent retailers survive if home centers own 50% share of the floor covering market?  

Is it disconcerting that the industry is moving to fibers that we know don’t wear well in our attempt to hit price points rather than serve the customer?  Does that help our independent retailers create value or further damage their credibility? 

Does it concern you that the growth of hard surface will greatly extend the normal replacement cycle of floor coverings?  Many people think independent retailers will go the way of television and organ stores.  Are floor covering retailers chum for suppliers?  Why would our industry be any different? The only way to change the future is to address the present. 

Are these concerns real or a symptom of the economic conditions?  Are there any reasons why floor covering retailers wouldn’t follow the same path as record stores?  I’d be interested in knowing what you think the future holds. Please let me know your thoughts.


Chris Ramey is president of Affluent Insights and a member of the Floor Covering Institute.


  1. Chris, you hit the nail perfectly on the head.
    Bringing new products to the flooring market in the U.S. is almost a crime. We are introducing every 6 months a new product but it might take 6 years before the market realizes the value and advantages of the products. While when I worked with Lumber Liquidators for 3 years as a merchant (yes indeed I was one of them) it was no problem to develop and introduce new products. Everyone always talks about the price strategy of Lumber Liquidators (what is for sure one of their strategies) but they are also bringing products to the market which are hard to find elsewhere what gives them a special place in the market as well.
    If the retailers would put some more pressure for new products on the distributors then they have to listen and react. Now the world is turned around where Lumber Liquidators was suppose to be trend follower they are now becoming a trendsetter and those who should be trendsetters are only looking and talking about how they are able to compete with the big box folks.
    Retailers look at yourself and recognize your own strength and use this as your most important tool in competition.


  2. BVG, thank you for your comments and kind words. Thanks also to everyone who has responded to me directly.

    Does anyone else find it odd that the trendsetters in the floor covering industry operate out of warehouse stores?