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  • Cecile Corral

Rugs Find Relevance Online

New York -For rug manufacturers and suppliers, 2013 was a year of incremental sales increases and some shifts at retail that opened new opportunities for 2014
     Area rug sales, which for many also include accent sizes, kitchen slices and door mats, saw a 4.3% total category sales increase to $4.65 billion. The category's share of the total home textiles universe grew as well, up one percentage point from 17% in 2012 to 18% in 2013.
     For reasons related to their abundant store count and broad reach across the country, discounters and off-price chains took a slightly larger slice of the pie - 36.6% in 2013, up from 35.9% in 2012.
     "Looking at the business as a whole, consumers continue to search for the best value, stretching the dollar as much as possible with quality and on trend color and design remaining vital parts of their decision," noted Kim Barta, brand manager, Dalton, Ga.-based Shaw Living.
     But major rug suppliers interviewed by H&TT agreed that e-commerce is growing quickly and stands to gain more ground in coming years.
     "E-commerce, for us, is our number one growth category year over year for the past four years," Jonathan Witt, vp of Dalton, Ga.-based Oriental Weavers, told H&TT . "It's becoming a huge channel, especially in the middle to lower price point products. For example, there's a ton of business online in outdoor rugs as well as regular area rugs in the $199 to $249 range for a 5-by-8."
Plus, he added: "Shoppers know they can easily return a product [to an online retailer] without any problem if it's not the right one for them."
     That brings up another important point made by Arash Yaraghi, principal of Port Washington, NY-based Safavieh: "Rugs are easy to ship and don't cost that much to ship, especially compared to other bigger ticket items like furniture. [A shopper] can order a rug online and have it shipped directly to their home for about $15, anywhere in the country, which is very little as it relates to the cost of the rug itself. It helps to make the sale."
     Safavieh has experienced "tremendous growth" from online-related sales, and part of that stems from the websites of established brick and-mortar stores.
     "They are doing regular [rug] business in their stores but also adding that layer of business they didn't have a few years ago online, and all that means additional business for us," Yaraghi added.
Mohawk Home has worked to service its growing e-commerce business, "as the rug category is now widely shopped by the online consumer," noted Bart Hill, svp.
     The internet gives suppliers another channel to pursue at a time when the retail industry is otherwise consolidating, according to Scottsboro Ala.-based Maples Rugs.
     "We have fewer customers, and we see that continuing," said John Maples, company president: "It's an impediment to growth."
     Added Wade Maples, co-founder: "All we see is the continuation of consolidation. It is the same old thing - blocking and tackling."

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