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Window Coverings: Total category sales — $4.0 billion

When it comes to which retail channel leads the way in terms of 2000 window coverings sales, look no further than discounters, according to Home Textiles Today's exclusive The Facts: Window Coverings.

Discounters were kings of the mountain in the $4 billion world of soft window coverings, capturing more than a third of the distribution, 36 percent, and $1.4 billion in sales, according to the survey. The survey also revealed that imported products also continue to make up a significant chunk of goods, with 36 percent of soft window coverings sold originating from offshore.

Discounters and specialty chains represented the lion's share of growth, as the former's numbers were up 5 percent from 1998, the last time numbers were available, and the latter's numbers were up 3 percent. Together, the two accounted for almost $2 billion in sales, more than any other four retail channels combined. Taken as a whole, discounters tallied a whopping 36 percent of the total distribution, while specialty chains totaled 13 percent.

Aside from single-unit specialty stores, which accounted for 7 percent of sales, or $280 million, almost every other retail channel recorded a loss in sales from as little as 1 percent (home improvement centers) to as large as 4 percent (department stores, Sears and Montgomery Ward).

In fact, department stores, which included JCPenney, have fallen steadily in their numbers since 1997, when departments stores accounted for 27 percent of the overall distribution. For 2000, department stores could only muster 16 percent of the business, a decline of 4 percent from 1999 alone.

In sales by product category, panels continue to dominate, with $1.2 billion rung up on cash registers. The once-dominant pinch-pleats have fallen off sharply, mustering only 16 percent in sales for 2000, compared to 25 percent in sales two years earlier.

On the design side, sheers continue to lead the pack, with 33 percent. Solids and lace take up the number-two and number-three spots, with 28 and 16 percent, respectively.

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