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Kitchen Textiles & Table Linens: Total category sales — $1.1 billion

The sister categories of kitchen textiles and table linens seemed to lead parallel lives last year, according to an exclusive study conducted by Home Textiles Today.

Kitchen textiles manufacturers conducted most of their business last year with discount stores, 51 percent or $224 million; specialty chains, 24 percent or $106 million; and department stores, 15 percent or $66 million.

Warehouse clubs grabbed a small 4 percent of the share, or $18 million, and catalogs took up less at 2 percent, or $9 million. The remainder of the retail channels — single-unit home textile specialty stores, Sears and Montgomery Ward, military exchanges and home improvement centers — each had only a 1 percent market share to call their own, or $4 million.

The scenery wasn't much different for table linen manufacturers, which did the bulk of their business at the same retail levels: discount stores, 42 percent or $277 million; specialty chains, 34 percent or $224 million; and department stores, 17 percent or $112 million. Catalogs only took 2 percent, or $13 million.

Likewise to kitchen textiles, for table linens the remainder of the retail channels — single-unit home textiles specialty stores, Sears and Montgomery Ward, military exchanges, and home improvement centers — each had a mere 1 percent market share, or $7 million.

Regarding sourcing, the study found that 63 percent of kitchen textile products — kitchen towels, dishcloths, potholders/mitts and chairpads — are imported, vs. the 37 percent made domestically. Of table linens, 84 percent of all tablecloths, place mats, napkins, napkin rings, runners and other items are imported. Manufacturers attributed the high sourcing statistics in part to lower production costs overseas.

In both categories, licensing played a minor role — in table, 12 percent, and in kitchen textiles, 7 percent.

Not atypically, cotton was the fiber of choice in kitchen textiles, occupying 83 percent of all products, vs. 45 percent of all table linen products. The remainder of table linens were made of synthetics, 29 percent; blends, 24 percent; and vinyls, 2 percent.

Retail markup statistics were identical for both kitchen textiles and table linens: high was 60 percent, low was 20 percent and median was 53 percent.

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