Stats 2021: Mills register breakout year
The improved looks, patterns and styles now seen in carpet are the result of vastly improved technology that has transformed the segment, executives said. “What we’ve seen in the last five years is carpet technology has improved a lot, so we’re making a better looking carpet,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product development for Mohawk. “In addition, everyday carpet is still a cost advantage over hard surfaces.”
Shaw Floors’ Christensen noted that “upper end goods are performing well within their target demographic, and we are also seeing an increased preference for basic styles. Pet-friendly solutions that promise high performance and high style are also winning in retail as homeowners want to protect the longevity of their investments.”
Commercial comes to life
After a painful 2020, in which sales plummeted by 21.7% and volume was close to -21.4%, commercial carpet recovered in 2021 with a turnover increase of 2.8% and volume almost flat. FCNews estimates the commercial market at $2.99 billion for 2021 with specified contract sales at $2.250 billion and Main Street at $749 million.
[Note: For years, a large percentage of mills considered level-loop polypropylene a Main Street product, mostly installed in rental space/tenant improvement and low-end apartments and basements. Today, much of this business has been lost to low-end polyester cut piles. These cut-pile sales are reported as residential, not Main Street. As well, some mills break out Main Street from their specified business, for example, identifying smaller K-8 to K-12 schools as Main Street.]
Typically, the commercial segment lags behind in the recovery from a catastrophic event such as the new coronavirus pandemic, although commercial demand is longer. This is because many commercial jobs are scheduled months out and there is a pipeline to build and complete. That scenario played out in 2021 and continued into the first part of 2022, with commercial sales up 14.8% and unit volume up 4%.
“We are starting to see more consistent returns in the commercial market,” said Graham van Markies. “The hospitality industry is one of the bright spots. As the population returns to the new normal – with vacation, dining and entertainment experiences – we are starting to see these companies making investments to modernize their facilities.”
Some of that investment is seen in the retail, education and professional/business segments, as well as Main Street. With regard to floor types, carpet tile continues to grow as a percentage of commercial soft surfaces, accounting for more than 60% of the commercial soft surfaces market, according to industry estimates.
There was a lively activity in the cut and bonded or cut and serged wall-to-wall carpet segment. Today, this has become the preferred way many customers buy carpets, as fewer retailers offer carpet racks in their showrooms. One of the main objections is holding expensive inventories. In terms of dimensions, retailers order custom-made rugs in various shapes and sizes.