Carpet, described Tim Baucom, Shaw Industries’ president, is “comfort food for the home.” As the consumer leans into spending more time at home, part of making it a sanctuary is bringing warmth, comfort and softness. Carpet for sure fills that need.
In fact, during its virtual event for Shaw Flooring Network members, SFN Open 2021, Baucom told viewers that there indeed has been a surge in carpet sales. Late last year, he told FCW that he was seeing early trends towards carpet. “This is driven by three things — housing is hot, pent up demand and a strong correlation to new single family starts and renovations,” he said.
“Our research said people liked carpet, but when it went to open floor plans it didn’t make sense,” he continued. “Now, people are saying ‘close the door and have some privacy.’ And there is a movement to the suburbs, even if just slightly suburban. A lot of hybrid workers — that’s favorable for carpet.”
It is, in fact, a sentiment we are hearing more and more. Make no mistake, though, carpet didn’t just suddenly gain these consumer-friendly attributes, they’ve been there all along. I also reached out to CCA Global to gain insight as we put together this issue that is almost entirely devoted to what soft surface has to offer. “COVID has changed the way we live, where we spend our time and where we work. Home has become the heart of the family in ways we never could have imagined before 2020,” explained Cathey Gundlach, vice president of merchandising, CCA Global.
Gundlach also pointed out performance as another factor that is helping to drive soft sales. “Waterproof, pet-proof, kid-proof and stain-resistance continue to be important for today’s consumer,” she told us, adding, “Interestingly enough, we have seen resurgence in the Berber category during the stay at home. Berber has always been known for its extreme durability, which is still the case, but today’s Berber is updated with new colors and amazing looks. It’s not the Berber of the ’90s.”
She too noted carpet’s comfort. “Carpet adds a feeling of warmth and coziness to any home for today’s work from home and stay at home lifestyle,” Gundlach said. As well, she added that with today’s technology and innovation in fiber, carpet no longer has to take second place to families with active homes. “Pets and kids are no match for today’s waterproof, pet-proof and kid-proof carpet. Besides comfort and warmth, carpet offers some great benefits for sound absorption and noise reduction,” she shared.
Indeed, carpet is soft and controls sound, but it also brings a sense of style to a room. “Consumers shop first and foremost by color and fashion,” asserted Gundlach. “Carpet has come a long way in design and pattern, with everything from eye-catching geometrics to subtle organic patterns. Color is key for the carpet category; today’s trendy customers are really gravitating to those shades of taupe and gray to match their decors.”
Hard surface sales are still on the rise, so for the customer who chooses hardwood or luxury vinyl, Gundlach advised, “Have no fear — take them to the soft surface area of the store and help them design a rug. One of the most exciting aspects of customers designing with hard surface in the home is the ability of the added purchase of a rug.” Plus, she noted that rugs can help define different areas into unique spaces.
This issue is a celebration of all that carpet and rugs have to offer and how, today especially, serve the consumers needs. Let soft surface shine.
Stay safe. Stay inspired.