Op ed: For flooring dealers, there’s light at the end of the tunnel

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By Samuel Greenberg

One of my favorite words—balagan—has no real English equivalent. Loosely translated, it means a “mess.” But really, there’s a lot more to it than that.

A balagan is a disaster. It’s a total trainwreck. A balagan is your kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner. A balagan is an amateur trying to install broadloom carpet. A balagan is the final season of Game of Thrones.

And friends, there’s no way around it. For flooring dealers, 2020 has been one giant, non-stop balagan.

But here’s the crazy thing: if you analyze Google search trends—the stuff Average Joe on Main Street USA is actually searching for on Google—you’ll find something really interesting. You’ll find that for flooring dealers, 2020 might not actually be a balagan for long. 

In fact, you’ll find that for flooring dealers, there’s light at the end of the tunnel—and it’s getting brighter every day.

Here’s why.

Analyzing Google Search Data

My name is Samuel Greenberg, and I’m the content marketing manager at Broadlume—parent company of FlooringStores, FloorForce and CreatingYourSpace

As a content-side SEO specialist, it’s my job to analyze organic search data. Essentially, I examine what people are searching for on Google, when they’re searching for it and, most importantly, why.

And what I’ve found in the last couple of weeks might really surprise you.

Using a tool called Google Trends, I’ve isolated week-by-week search volume for three unique keyword phrases: “Flooring store near me,” “how to replace flooring” and “new flooring.” Basically, I can see how many people are searching for these phrases every week and compare that to how many people were searching for these phrases in weeks past.

Choosing high-volume, high-intent phrases

Why did I choose to analyze these three phrases in particular? It’s simple: they’re high volume and high intent. That means they’re phrases a lot of people search for (aka high volume), and they’re phrases an Average Joe or Jane would search for if they were serious about replacing their floors (aka high intent).

And remember: we’re only looking at these three specific phrases. If you add in similar phrases (“new floor” vs. “new flooring,” for example) these search numbers increase exponentially.

High-intent floor buying searches have not decreased in 2020 (in fact, just the opposite)

And wouldn’t you know it—even with the balagan of the COVID pandemic, search volume for these high-volume, high-intent phrases has not decreased in any meaningful way. In fact, in many cases it’s actually increased tremendously. Let’s break that down by the numbers.

Search Term: Flooring store near me

Organic searches January–February 2019: 496

Organic searches January–February 2020: 608

Organic searches March–April 2019: 548

Organic searches March–April 2020: 504

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Total organic searches January–April 2019: 1,044

Total organic searches January–April 2020: 1,112

Although searches for “flooring store near me” decreased slightly during the March/April lockdown, this phrase saw an overall search increase of 7% when compared to the first four months of 2019.

Search Term: How to Replace Flooring

Organic searches January–February 2019: 498

Organic searches January—February 2020: 506

Organic searches March–April 2019: 641

Organic searches March–April 2020: 633

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Total organic searches January–April 2019: 1,139

Total organic searches January–April 2020: 1,139

Similarly, the phrase “how to replace flooring” saw a very slight decrease in search volume during the March/April lockdown. But overall, it saw the exact same search volume when compared to the first four months of 2019.

Search Term: New Flooring

Organic searches January–February 2019: 445

Organic searches January–February 2020: 512

Organic searches March–April 2019: 533

Organic searches March–April 2020: 645

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Total organic searches January–April 2019: 978

Total organic searches January–April 2020: 1,157

Despite the massive economic downturn we’re currently facing, the number of searches for “new flooring” increased by 18% compared to the first four months of last year. Even more impressively, searches for “new flooring” increased by a whopping 21% during the lockdown months of March and April. 

What do these search numbers mean for your flooring store?

Despite the worst economic downturn since the 1940s, the highest unemployment rate since the great depression and COVID-related issues with the flooring supply chain, people are still actively trying to buy flooring.

And we’re not just seeing an uptick in searches related to purchasing flooring, either. Searches related to flooring education—tile vs. laminate, types of flooring, types of wood flooring, you name it—are also seeing a significant increase in volume.

So what does that mean for your flooring store? That while the economy may be in tatters, there’s been no decrease in the number of people who want to replace their floors. If anything, being trapped inside due to lockdown has led to a significant increase in buyers who want to replace their surfaces. 

Basically, it means that the demand for new flooring is still there. It hasn’t been diminished by the ongoing pandemic or economic disaster. There’s a clear pent-up demand for flooring, and the minute lockdown orders are lifted, we’re most likely going to see a massive spike in flooring sales.

So if you’re a flooring dealer, remember: everything might be a balagan right now—but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t be overly dramatic to say that there’s never been a harder time to be a flooring dealer. With lockdown orders in place across the country, flooring stores are overwhelmingly shuttered—and with the second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding winding down, the situation is becoming even more difficult.

But: as Todd Saunders of FloorForce so eloquently put it, for flooring dealers, the best is yet to come. And that’s not just an opinion: it’s a statement of fact supported by hard data. 

So if you’re a flooring dealer, remember: the demand is still there. And soon, you’ll be there to meet it.

Note for the numbers nerds: As Google Trends only pulls weekly data, specific dates ranges don’t always line up perfectly—for instance, we have to compare the week of February 3–10, 2019 to the week of February 2–9, 2020. Translation: our numbers are +/- a couple of points from dead-on. But the data discrepancy this creates is minimal and doesn’t affect any overall trends.

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