35th Anniversary: Predictions for the future of flooring

Those in the know provide projections for the next decade…

  1. POSITIVE MOMENTUM
    Demographics and a number of social and economic factors have set up our industry for a robust five years ahead. I’m excited about the positive momentum we’re building to help our customers grow their businesses. Now is the time to delve deeper than ever into consumers’ rapidly shifting preferences and priorities and to develop new products, services and even business models to meet those needs.
    – Tim Baucom, president and CEO, Shaw Industries
  2. SOLID GROWTH AHEAD
    I anticipate that the flooring industry as a whole is poised for a period of solid growth over the next five-plus years. This is predicated on the lack of supply of homes (coupled with low interest rates) on the residential side, and a commercial market that is just starting a period of recovery with a return to work, school, travel and the re-opening of the economy after the pandemic.
    – Russell Grizzle, president and CEO, Mannington Mills
  3. INDICATORS POINT TO PROSPERITY
    We’ve been building homes for the better part of the last decade. Based on household formations and the long-term economic outlook, I think the next five years will see a lot of great, steady growth in this industry.
    – Dan Natkin, vice president, residential products, Mannington Mills
  4. FLOURISHING POTENTIAL
    Aside from any major, world-wide conflict or catastrophe— and I’m not referring to COVID- 19 necessarily—our industry will do just fine [over the next five to 10 years.] As long as there are floors and walls to be covered, we will find new and innovative ways to beautify each and every space. As long as retailers provide a good product and good service, they will be able to take a piece of that pie.
    – Olga Robertson, president, FCA Network
  5. SURGING POTENTIAL
    Even though travel and entertainment have come back strong, this surge in business for flooring has legs and will last.
    – Rick Bennet, co-CEO, CCA Global Partners
  6. LOGISTICS STRUGGLES SUPPORT MADE IN USA
    In looking ahead at flooring’s future, we see that more goods will be manufactured in North America. Recent shortages, due to international transportation and ris-ing inflation, are forcing providers to reinvent their supply chain. Logistics costs and service will normalize in the next two years as capacity adjusts and greater supply is created in North America.
    – Michel Vermette, president and CEO, Armstrong Flooring
  7. SHARED VALUES BOOSTS BRAND LOYALTY
    Consumers today are gravitating toward brands who share their values, give back and support social justice issues. Younger generations will take these principles even further and elevate their expectations of brands.
    – Nina LoCicero, vice president, residential marketing/ digital commerce, Shaw Residential
  8. ONGOING ONSHORING
    I think we will see more floors being manufactured in the U.S. We have known for a long period of time that if there is going to be a high labor cost, then it will be made in a Third World country. The textile business taught us that. U.S. car manufacturers could not compete because of the labor cost. We have to have products that are manufactured and used in the U.S.
    – Bob Shaw, CEO, Engineered Floors
  9. OMNICHANNEL APPROACH
    The industry will break from the 70-year model of a multi-step supply chain to a more omnichannel fragmented approach, causing serious dislocation among long-term supplier/customer relationships.
    – Jeff Hamar, executive chairman, Galleher
  10. TALKING TECH
    Advances in technology will continue to evolve and shape how suppliers interact with the various segments of the customer base—including consumers and businesses alike. We expect more of the purchasing experience to be digital as new technological tools develop. The market will also continue to respond and reward value-added innovation and innovative suppliers. Much like the previous decade, design innovations, performance and simplification of installation will drive the market to the next level.
    – Russell Grizzle, Mannington Mills
  11. SUSTAINABILITY SOARS
    In commercial, sustainability will reach extraordinary heights. Flooring must be biodegradable, antimicrobial, recyclable and safe enough to be eaten by puppies. Wood will become bulletproof and welcome even in hospital settings.
    – Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO, Emily Morrow Home
  12. E-COMMERCE BLOSSOMS
    E-commerce will become ever more important for flooring retailers. It took e-commerce sales to go from 8% of total retail sales to 16% in a seven-year span from 2012 to 2019. Then in one year it doubled again. This pace of change will continue.
    – John Gilbert, president, Carpet One
  13. DIGITAL DOES IT ALL
    Having a robust digital presence that seamlessly integrates the online and offline consumer buying journey will be an entry-level expectation. The standard has been elevated across the board and consumers today demand simplicity, transparency and a seamless shopping journey across all touch points on their path to purchase.
    – Nina LoCicero, Shaw Residential
  14. TECH-POWERED SHOPPING WINS
    Consumers will continue to look for enhancements in digital tools and options to simplify their shopping process. Manufacturers are responding to these preferences with incredible new technologies, as well as a simplified flooring selection process.
    – Mark Clayton, president, Phenix Flooring
  15. PUTTING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FIRST
    We’re hyper-focused on creating a world-class customer experience. Future success in our industry hinges on timely service, transparent communication and fully integrated online, in-store and in-home experiences.
    – Tim Baucom, Shaw Industries
  16. POSITIVE HOUSING TAILWINDS FUEL PROSPERITY
    I’m very optimistic about the market outlook. Even pre-pandemic, the housing market and the home furnishings category in general was steadily gaining momentum. The pandemic induced fundamental changes in the way people work and live with a strong focus on the home. I’m confident there are several long-term, positive tailwinds for housing and in turn the flooring market for the next several years.
    – Jonathan Cohen, president, Stanton
  17. REPLACEMENT CYCLE KICKS OFF
    Many of the flooring products produced between 2000 and 2015, which, for the first time ever, combined good looks and longevity, will have to be replaced. The cycle of flooring replacement slowed significantly over the past two decades, which contributed to a very extended replacement recession.
    – Jeff Hamar, Galleher
  18. HOUSES (NOT HOUSING) SHRINK
    We will see homes get smaller—more 1,500-square-foot houses from an affordability standpoint. It costs more than $200/foot to build a house, but you have a 30-year mortgage around 3% instead of 6%, so houses will fit the economy. We will see smaller homes but considerably more homes. We have only built a third of the homes necessary over the last 10 years given the number of household formations.
    – Bob Shaw, Engineered Floors
  19. PRODUCT ADVANCEMENTS ALIGN
    As we look into the future, we expect technology, innovation and sustainability to have the biggest influences on how customers select products. Product advancement will continue to focus on styling, performance, clean-ability and ease of installation while continuing to become even more environmentally friendly.
    – Scott Maslowski, senior vice president of sales, Dal-Tile
  20. LAMINATE LOOMS
    Laminate is going to do very well because of the realistic visuals, because it’s waterproof, it’s very ecological, it’s renewable and because it’s a good value. PVC has a recycling issue, is a derivative of oil and it has very high volatility in the cost. I think laminates will make a comeback, possibly at the expense of vinyl, for many reasons.
    – Paul DeCock, president, Mohawk Industries
  21. ALTERNATIVES AIM HIGH
    I see the soft-surface category continue to grow as well as laminate [in the next five to 10 years]. When you look at the pricing pressure and sup-ply shortfalls on LVP today with no real end in sight, retailers will look for alternatives in the U.S. Once dealers realize that laminate is a good alternative and it’s available and you can make good margin, you will see a slow and steady shift.
    – Olga Robertson, FCA Network
  22. RESILIENCY IN RESIDENTIAL
    I think we’re going to see a continuation of current trends. In residential, carpet continues to decline in favor of hard surface. Wood visuals grow in popularity. Rigid core replaces flexible core. Waterproof wood replaces conventional wood. Wood moves toward the higher end and is replaced by look-alikes at the lower end.
    – Don Finkell, CEO, American OEM
  23. LVT WAXES ON
    In looking ahead to the future of flooring, hard surfaces—LVT in particular—will outperform soft surfaces and other products as visuals and performance continue to improve, and LVT will make significant progress toward a closed-loop solution.
    – Michel Vermette, Armstrong Flooring
  24. LUXURY DIVERSIFIED
    Overall, we have a positive outlook and expect to see steady gains in LVT over the next five years across both residential and commercial sectors. We anticipate pandemic-related effects on the flooring industry itself, related channel development and consumer shopping habits—including changes within the mix of LVT—as the market continues to grow and diversify.
    – Bill Anderson, CEO, Karndean Designflooring
  25. HAPPENING HARDWOOD
    I think certain trends are here to stay, wide-plank flooring being an example, but I think you’re going to see continued shifting color palettes and shifting species mix in a way that has been dramatically popular in the last decade. I think one of the things you’ll see as well is a re-emergence of classic looks, like the narrow-plank trend. We’re at the beginning of that trend.
    – Dan Natkin, Mannington
  26. CARPET UP AND COMING
    The carpet category is expected to stabilize as a percentage of the total flooring market—and perhaps we could even see some expansion toward growing market share, which may already be taking place, as early as this year.
    – Mark Clayton, Phenix Flooring
  27. SOFT SURFACE ENDURES
    The soft floor covering industry will be healthy. I would say, without question, we’ve proven soft floor covering will be around for another 100 years simply because it’s comfortable and safe. But we may find different things that we will be doing with our soft floor covering. Our bedrooms and hallways—because of noise abatement and safety—ensures carpet will be around for the foreseeable future. Soft floor covering will be 50%-60% of the home.
    – Bob Shaw, Engineered Floors
  28. PRINTED CATEGORIES TAKE OFF
    I think you’re going to see a lot of cate-gory shifting. I think we’re going to see a lot of laminate resurgence. Overall, I think you’ll see the printed categories— LVT and laminate—do well in the entry-level to mid-level price points and the continued expansion of mid-level to premium hardwood grow about 5%.
    – Dan Natkin, Mannington Mills
  29. YOUNG LEADERS EMERGE
    Much of the industry leadership will retire and the next generation of executives will be very different than the group that has led the industry for the past several decades.
    – Jeff Hamar, Galleher
  30. DIY DOMINATES
    [In the next five to 10 years,] independent flooring retailers will become creative with product offerings in order to draw consumers to their store— most will carry and promote DIY products to compete with big box stores and increase their opportunity to engage with the consumer.
    – Scott Humphrey, CEO, World Floor Covering Association
  31. INNOVATION, CUSTOMER SERVICE TAKE CENTER STAGE
    When looking at the next five to 10 years, we foresee innovations that significantly alter our industry will continue. We are certain there are a few on the horizon right now that have that potential. Good customer service with great programs is also a sure bet today; this is going to continue in the long run.
    – Derek Welbourn, CEO, Inhaus
  32. WORK FROM HOME
    COVID-19 accelerated the ‘work-from-home’ evolution and in five to 10 years a large percentage of the population will work remotely. This will put a large focus on homes and spaces within it—creating large opportunity for flooring dealers.
    – Raj Shah, president, MSI Surfaces
  33. EXPECTED EXPANSION
    I believe we will continue to see consolidation at all levels of the industry as ever-increasing efficiency is required to compete. As a result, companies in good financial positions will look for opportunities to expand.
    – Russell Grizzle, Mannington Mills
  34. ADDRESSING LABOR
    I think labor will remain tight because young kids these days want to make $50,000 a year sitting behind a desk rather than $100,000 as a painter. We need to upgrade those jobs, value those jobs more and change the mentality with the younger generation.
    – Paul DeCock, Mohawk Industries
  35. SOLID GROWTH AMID CHALLENGES
    The rest of the decade will remain relatively solid with a few bumps along the way. Growth will continue at its current breakneck pace until the end of the year, and then it will revert to numbers more in line with what we are accustomed to seeing. New home builds will remain strong for at least the next two years as will sales of existing homes (provided inventory levels stabilize) as people look to move from city to suburb, smaller home to larger, cooler climates to warmer, and in some cases blue to red states. I think all flooring categories will experience growth, with carpet and laminate continuing to experience some-what of a renaissance—as will higher-end goods. We’ll be hearing more about waterproof laminate, which will continue to drive that category. SPC and all its iterations show no signs of slowing. The challenges we see today will not abate for quite some time, I’m afraid. Labor will remain an issue. Supply chain issues are certainly here for the short term. The ‘X’ factor is how Washington spending impacts people’s dis-posable income.
    – Steven Feldman, publisher, Floor Covering News

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