STATS: Flooring sales trend slightly lower in 2020
As LVT grows, it is taking market share from other resilient categories, particularly VCT, which is just 2.9% of resilient dollars and 6.3% of volume today. Eight years ago, those figures were 19.7% and 26.8% respectively. FCNews estimates the VCT market at approximately $ 191 million and 342 million square feet. But it is also part of the sheet vinyl. Vinyl records – residential and commercial combined – are down 20.4% in the past five years, from $ 813.5 million in 2015 to $ 647.5 million in 2020. The residential record market is down 10% from $ 500 million to $ 451 million. Volume declined 8.1%, indicating price pressure. The commercial plate market declined 11.7% in 2020 with estimated sales of $ 196.5 million versus $ 222.5 million in 2019. Volume declined 9.9% from 106.5 million square feet to 96 million square feet . It remains a mainstay in healthcare, where a more seamless floor covering is required. The category has been a challenge for just about everyone, with heterogeneous share continuing to win over homogeneous – a segment that actually has only three players left: Armstrong Flooring, Mannington and Tarkett.
As it continued its downward trajectory, the tile category experienced a low, single digit decline in terms of total dollar sales and a similar decline in terms of volume. In comparison, ceramic tile had previously experienced low single digit growth in several consecutive years.
FCNews Research shows that the category in the category saw a decline in dollar sales of about 5% to $ 2.844 billion in 2020, from $ 2.994 billion the previous year. Volume also declined, dropping approximately 3.5% to 2.403 from 2.491 billion square feet in 2019.
Overall, the tile category was still the third largest flooring industry, accounting for 12.4% of total industry dollars in 2020 and 12.7% of volume, slightly below 13% of dollars and 13.11 % of the volume in 2019.
In 2020, the category also accounted for 21.8% of US dollar sales for the gradually expanding hard surfaces market and 24.6% of volume. That’s down 24.86% in dollar sales and 30.98% in volume from 2019.
Unsurprisingly, most ceramic tile suppliers pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as the overarching challenge in 2020. In fact, the first quarter actually showed growth forecasts before the first shutdowns and uncertainty hit. “COVID-19 had the greatest impact on aggregate demand,” explained Raj Shah, president of MSI. “The industry grew by 3% -5% [the first quarter of 2020] prior to COVID-19. In the second quarter, COVID-19 pretty much shut the industry down outside of a few chain stores. The third quarter started with the recovery, but it was not until the fourth quarter that the sector stabilized. “
Another ongoing challenge for the category is finding qualified workers. Tile floors, more than most others, should be laid by highly trained and even artisan craftsmen. That installation can also take several days or even weeks, depending on the size and scale of the project. This pre-existing challenge was affected by the pandemic as homeowners became wary of professional installers in their homes – especially over extended periods.
The culmination of these installation challenges could have pushed some consumers from the tile category to the category that allows for easy installation or targeted the DIY community, namely resilient flooring.
Despite these challenges, suppliers say growth is expected. The pandemic may have presented challenges, but it has also created new opportunities that are ready to be tapped.
The hardwood floors category continued to feel the effects of the rising popularity of competing wood-based alternatives in 2020 as the segment took another hit for the second year in a row. FCNews Research shows that the U.S. hardwood floors market generated approximately $ 2.207 billion in revenue, a 4% decline from 2019 and a shadow below the five-year low of $ 2.23 billion reached in 2015.
In terms of volume, the wood floors segment accounted for approximately 888 million square feet, down 4.2%. That’s the lowest level since 2015, when the category covered just over 850 million square feet.
While hardwood still represents the third largest hard surface category after resilient and ceramic in terms of sales, the gap is widening. In 2020, hardwood floors accounted for 17% of all hard surfaces sold at the first distribution point – that’s down from about 20% just two years ago. In terms of volume, hardwood floors actually came in fourth behind laminates – which push hardwood out just under 1 percentage point.
Taking into account a soft surface, hardwoods represented 9.6% of the total floor market in 2020 in dollar terms. Compared to five years ago, hardwood represented just over 10% of the market. In terms of total volume, hardwood represented 4.7% of the total square footage sold in 2020. This is reasonably in line with the status of timber in 2015 and 2010 in terms of volume.
In addition to the gradual loss of market share, the hardwood floors segment also saw shifts in distribution channels in 2020. FCNews Research shows that home centers increased their share of the pie from 35% to 38%, while specialty stores saw their share decline slightly from 32% to 30% of sales. Sales direct to consumers increased slightly, mainly due to aggressive marketing by online outlets and discount stores.
The X factor that drove sales through the higher wood consumption channels was clearly the pandemic. Like many other ambitious home improvement categories that benefited from the fact that consumers spent much more time at home, the North American hardwood flooring industry also reaped the benefits. Suppliers across the board testified to the positive impact the new coronavirus had on wood floor purchases and installations.
Preliminary reports pegged laminate flooring sales at its first distribution point in the US at $ 1.144 billion, an increase of 5.8% from 2019. The volume of laminate flooring sold also grew, by 4.2%, to 976 million square feet , according to preliminary FCNews Research. For most of the other categories, that wouldn’t be such a remarkable achievement. But since last year was the first time in the past five years that the US laminate market actually grew, it was newsworthy.
Anecdotal information suggests that the higher sales growth to volume increase ratio indicates that more products were sold in the thicker 10mm-12mm range compared to the thinner entry-level 7mm-8mm offerings often found at discount stores and big boxes.
Due to the growth in sales and volume, the share of laminate in the total floor market has increased slightly to about 5% of sales – slightly up from 4.7% of the total floor market in 2019. However, that is lower than in 2015, when laminate floors accounted for about 5.6% of both total flooring sales and volume. But it differs significantly from 2010, when laminate accounted for 6.9% of the dollar and 6.1% of the volume.
The change in the share of laminates in the total hard surfaces was negligible year on year. In 2020, the category accounted for 8.7% of hard surface sales, in line with 2019 despite last year’s growth spurt. That makes it the fourth largest hard surface category in terms of value. In terms of volume, laminate flooring has slightly reduced their share of the total square footage of hard surfaces sold to almost 10%. That is slightly lower than about 10.4% in 2019.
The strong performance of the country’s leading home centers and large boxes contributed greatly to the increase in laminate flooring sales in 2020. FCNews research shows that Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s accounted for more than 63% of laminate sales in the US last year – that’s more than 59% the year before. Industry observers agree that the strong performance of the big boxes last year was in large part due to their status as an “essential enterprise” in the early days of the novel coronavirus. At a time when most were secluded, home centers took full advantage of a captive shoppers. This competitive advantage had a direct impact on home center laminate sales.
The statistics presented in this study are derived from an extensive research project conducted by Floor Covering News. Figures were collected from various sources to develop the most plausible and credible results at the time of publication.
Within every category FCNews conducted numerous private conversations with senior executives from many of the industry’s leading factories, groups, and associations about the overall industry and their respective segment (s). While these discussions were off-the-record and confidential, the information obtained was incorporated into the study to arrive at the final figures.
Other sources included, but were not limited to, published government documents (both US and foreign sources); registrations from listed companies; extensive and confidential interviews with top executives from all levels of the supply chain; historical trends and data; reports published by associations along with private discussions with administrators; and previously published reports and stories in FCNews and other credible media sources.
Some data came from sources such as the United States Department of Commerce and other federal agencies. Information was also sought from foreign agencies and respected international flooring groups.