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Jennifer Karp

Web Exclusive: Is fast home coming?

Retailers like Zara, H&M test waters with online assortment

Zara Home

 

New York – Can retailers like Zara take the fast fashion approach to textiles and housewares?

Fast fashion of course refers to the latest apparel designs that are translated from the runway into affordable fashion. Zara in particular is known for moving tens of thousands of styles quickly from runway to store shelves, recreating high-end looks for low prices. The retailer reportedly replenishes stock twice a week.

Through its Zara Home unit, the retailer has been expanding its home furnishings business. According to its home web site – which is separate from its apparel web site -- Zara Home was launched in 2003 and offers bedding, tableware and bath linen, as well as dishware, cutlery, glassware and home decor.

“Zara home is constantly refreshing its product range throughout the year,” the site states. The leader of the fast fashion retailers doing home, Zara Home has 394 stores in 45 markets – but a no physical presence in the U.S., although at least one analyst believes that is about to change. (Zara and other retailers did not respond to a request to comment for this article).

Zara Home launched a store in Canada last year at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre . And H&M, which launched its home collection online for the U.S. last year, has a physical presence for its home goods in a store in at least one location in Washington D.C.

Testing the waters

Marshal Cohen chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, called it a “natural move” for fast fashion retailers to move further – but cautiously – into home.

“The consumer who is into fashion is interested in their home. They care about the impression they make,” Cohen said. On the logistics side of the equation, he said, these retailers “have the experience of turning product quickly and offering tasteful product at an attractive price.”

Kelly Tackett, an analyst at Planet Retail, described fast fashion retailers as “testing the waters” with their online home furnishings.

“The issue with taking physical space here in the U.S. is that the home furnishings market is oversaturated. However we have seen Zara Home stores are outperforming other formats.”

According to a Planet Retail report posted in March on Zara’s parent company Inditex’s performance in fiscal year 2013, “Zara Home delivered the strongest performance, posting 29% sales growth and bringing in EBIT of 55 million euros (73 million USD), 35% more than in fiscal 2012.

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