Laminates Take Market Share From Wood
Neil Smith, flooring director at IDS, reveals the latest flooring trends and how the trade can capture market share:
THE average family is spending an estimated £3,000 a year, or around £250 a month, less on discretionary spend on leisure activities, holidays and entertainment. The same caution in spending is evident too in the flooring market with today’s consumer demanding products that offer design, value and quality.
As an industry we can meet this challenge because our continued focus on product innovation gives rise to a variety of products that deliver exactly that.
In the last 12 months we have seen a shift in consumer spending towards laminate flooring, taking share from wood flooring sales for the first time in five years.
With its competitive pricing, laminate flooring appeals on a monetary level, but also the ever more realistic designs and surface textures, coupled with easy installation and maintenance make it a very smart choice in its own right.
A good laminate brand should be part of every retailer’s selling armoury because it’s suitable for so many areas of the home.
Bathrooms are a growth area too as consumers look for alternatives to their traditional choices. Laminate flooring sales in tile effects are among our strongest sellers and our exclusive Aquastep PVC flooring range is also carving its niche offering a 100% waterproof floor with easy maintenance and peace of mind. It appeals to the consumer’s desire for something that looks good and lasts well.
The upcoming product is luxury vinyl tile (LVT) which will compete in the vinyl sector that’s estimated to be worth £150m in sales annually. To date, this market has been dominated by ‘stick down’ products but the technology is now there for a click-system and we all know how that revolutionised laminate sales. LVT offers realistic looks and a massive cost saving compared to conventional tiling, not to mention the speed and ease of installation.
New products are shortly coming to market and this is the one for retailers to get on board with. With retail prices more competitive than ‘stick-down’ vinyl products, this is a superb example of how product innovation can respond to market needs for great design and value.
In the current climate, wood flooring is perhaps an ‘investment buy’ for the consumer. It’s a considered purchase weighed against the scales of cost vs long-lasting style. Oak continues to be the preferred choice for that very reason, offering timeless appeal and the versatility to work in any setting whether traditional or modern.
Engineered wood flooring has established itself as the fitter’s choice – influenced again by innovations including the drop-loc fitting system.
Similarly the construction from a multi-ply base with a timber veneer is no longer perceived as ‘not the real thing compared to solid’. It is now widely understood by the trade and consumer to deliver the benefits of aesthetics, flexible installation and long term performance in the home.
Many consumers will have a go at wielding a paintbrush, far fewer will attempt to, or even want to, fit their own flooring. While cost is important, so too is service and retailers who can combine a strong service ethic with a smartly selected product offer are best placed to capture the consumer’s spend.
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This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.