By Ken Ryan
While carpet’s footprint in the home has shrunk in the past decade, the trend has allowed better, higher-end goods to thrive within residential settings. Mill executives cite two reasons for this shift: 1) with carpet mostly relegated to the bedroom, consumers want a nicer look in that space; and 2) with most hard surfaces priced above carpet, homeowners are willing to consider carpet at a higher price point than before.
There are other factors at play as well, including the abundance of carpet products featuring styles and patterns not seen previously. “Twenty years ago, solid color beige cut pile ruled the day,” said TM Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. “Today, we have an incredible number of patterns, loops and differentiated looks. Patterns have grown significantly and probably comprise 25%-30% of industry sales. In the higher end market, patterns are closer to 50% of the sales. Colorations have changed significantly as well. Instead of plain, solid color carpet, today we have tonals, multi-colors, striated effects and combinations of these, which is giving the consumer some amazing color lines to work with.”
For select areas of the home where carpet remains, consumers are apt to make a design statement. “So, they will often choose a stylish pattern, a unique styling technique or a luxurious, plush carpet that will create a very enriching experience,” said Luanne Holloway, head of product development for Southwind. “And for this, they are willing to purchase better goods. Within the better goods segment, carpets that provide layers of texture and color—and patterns in geometrics and organics are trending.”
With such a diverse portfolio of differentiated visuals, the consumer has the ability to make the right decisions for her specific budget and lifestyle—whether it is a value price point or high end. After a two-month lull in March-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, executives say the market is regaining its equilibrium.
“We are seeing a return to pre- COVID-19 trends that have given us a more positive outlook for the balance of the year,” said Teresa Tran, vice president Shaw Floors retail channel. “Although the trends have been consistent across all of our collections, our better/higher-end goods are seeing a quicker rebound from the market. This could indicate that, after months of making the home a safe haven, consumers are not compromising on their selection and choice of flooring needs.”
With hard surfaces claiming a dominant position in the home, there is less replacement business going on, which hurts the carpet category. As a result, unit volume is down, and the only surefire way to maintain or grow revenue is to sell a higher priced product (starting at $14-$15 per square yard wholesale).
In that vein, retailers and RSAs are incentivized to push higher-end goods. “We have a consumer who wants something to complement the hard surface flooring running through her home and has many great options to choose from with today’s loops, patterns and colorations,” Nuckols explained. “And she is open to higher price points, which the retailer and RSA should be pushing. Within her budget, she can get a nylon or wool product that will last a long, long time, and she will be a very happy consumer. This is a scenario for higher-end carpet to thrive, which we have seen over the last several years and expect to continue going forward.”
Following is an overview of some 2020 introductions that target the high end of the market:
At one time patterned looks were primarily reserved for upper-end markets in wool. Today, the convergence of fiber and machine technology gives mills like Anderson Tuftex the ability to create statement designs offering the consumer affordable luxury. “Whether you are carpeting a room or designing a rug or stair- case runner, we have beautiful options in a variety of price points,” said Lisa Lux, director of soft surface R&D.
This year, Anderson Tuftex introduced four designs from its Yin collection: Private Retreat, Ming, Aristocrat and Artifact. All are constructed with the newest in machine technology and the right fiber luster, allowing for a wool-like visual in Anso nylon.
The Dixie Group
EnVision66 nylon fiber, which creates great margin opportunity for retailers, is a common fiber used across all three brands of TDG. For Dixie Home, Finery is a new pattern product that offers a new twist on the classic pin dot with tonal colorations.
For Masland, Mesa Bella is a textural pattern with a striated effect and exceptionally clean finish. Made with EnVision66 fiber in 40 tonal colors, this product is a real money maker for the retail sales associate and retailer, Nuckols said.
For Fabrica, Stratus is a new luxurious pattern constructed with EnVision66 nylon fiber featuring an overall abstract pattern with a subtle tonal effect and striking color line.
Modern Contours has been successful in bringing fash- ion-forward design and tex- tures with the enhanced protection of Microban antimicrobial treatment at an affordable price. Two styles that make a bold statement are: Bespoke, featuring patterning inspired by the Japanese Shibori art form; and Elegance, which delivers line work reminiscent of subway tile in earthy tonal colors.
Deco Impressions, Featured Legacy, Vivid Connection and Vivid Introspective are examples of products from Karastan’s KaraLoom collection. “They are high style, beautiful, trending col- ors and differentiated from what is currently available to the mass- es,” said Jamie Welborn, vice pres- ident of residential carpet prod- uct development for Mohawk. “In addition, they are made out of a premium fiber, SmartStrand. The consumer sees craftsman- ship that is beautiful and is will- ing to pay more for this because it is not just another beige cut pile.”
The Caress collection has been reimagined with new patterns and modern accent colors designed for the premium con- sumer. Featuring refined Anso nylon styles in wall-to-wall or rug options, Caress pairs with The Gallery, a new premium hard- wood collection from Shaw Floors.
The Shaw Floors Anso Colorwall has been an anchor in retail showrooms for more than 20 years, and has been reimag- ined to ‘Color that Speaks to You,’ exclusive to the Shaw Flooring Network.
The Classic Traditions pattern collection is a line of better goods made of Southwind’s own So Soft PET that offers a range of stylish patterns in a variety of trending textures, colors and design styles. “Our new Celestial collection is a unique, upscale pairing of carpets that is 100% solution dyed with the look of more costly space-dye styling,” Holloway said. “Orion and Capricorn are made of our So Soft PET with our exclusive ColorSurgeSD yarn. This new yarn system is designed with pre- mium color separation and just the right amount of color pop for extra appeal.”
Stanton Carpet introduced a slew of offerings across its family of brands in June. These include Stanton Street, Antrim, Rosecore, Crescent and Hibernia—all performance-based products that offer retailers high margin opportunities.
Through style innovation, Crescent has created strong demand for highly decorative flat woven stripes; it has now developed three new and distinct designs to the Tailor Made collection. Also from Tailor Made is Varkala Quadra, a 15-foot hand loomed carpet utilizing a UV stabilized polysilk fiber. The ultra-supreme performance product mixes high style and low maintenance, for use indoors or out.