The U.S. floor coverings market surged in 2013 as the housing market finally began to experience a significant recovery. Dollar floor coverings manufacturer sales (shipments minus exports plus imports) are estimated to have increased by 7.1 percent in 2013 to $20.1 billion. Quantity sales could have climbed by 5.5 percent to 18.7 billion square feet. This is the strongest industry growth since 2004, reported Catalina Research.
The acceleration in industry growth over the past year was primarily due to the sharp increase in new and existing home sales as consumers took advantage of historic low interest rates. Builder flooring spending led the way with an estimated 19 percent increase as new residential square footage construction rose by some 20 percent. At the same time, a 9.4 percent increase in existing home sales contributed to an estimated 7 percent gain in residential replacement spending. Even non-movers began to increase flooring spending along with rising home prices, increasing personal income gains and a rising stock market.
U.S. floor coverings sales growth would have been even sharper if not for the sluggishness in commercial market sales. Commercial market floor covering spending is estimated to have increased by only 4.6 percent in 2013. The increase in commercial sales benefited from the 5.2 percent increase in private nonresidential building construction spending, which was partially offset by the 9.4 percent drop in public building construction spending.
Hard surface flooring continued to make additional inroads in 2013, reported Catalina. Hard surface flooring is estimated to account for 49.3 percent of total dollar sales and 43.4 percent of total square foot sales in 2013. This is up from 47.9 percent and 42.5 percent, respectively, in 2012. Hard surface flooring could have captured more than 50 percent of total industry dollar sales in the fourth quarter of 2013. In 2013, hard surface flooring sales are estimated to have increased by 10.2 percent in dollars and 7.5 percent in square feet. For soft surface flooring, the figures were 4.2 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
Hard surface sales growth received a boost from its higher dependence on the builder market. This is especially true in the strong growing ceramic tile, wood flooring and resilient flooring sectors. Homeowners are also increasingly turning to hard surface flooring when undertaking flooring replacement jobs. Consumer tastes are changing as hard surface flooring manufacturers introduced innovative products such as click-installed luxury vinyl tile, wood-plank porcelain tile and easy to install engineered wood flooring.
Consumers are increasingly turning to the value retailers — home centers and value hard surface flooring chains — as they take on an increasing number of do-it-yourself flooring replacement projects. To meet consumers’ pricing expectations, these retailers are increasing their sourcing of competitively-priced foreign-made flooring. In 2013, the dollar value of U.S. floor coverings imports increased by 13.1 percent. As a result, imports’ share of total dollar sales rose to 33.4 percent, up from 31.6 percent in 2012. On a square foot basis, imports’ share is 37.5 percent and 35.4 percent, respectively. Import penetration rates are above these rates in the relatively strong growing ceramic tile, resilient flooring and wood flooring product lines. The leading sources of foreign-made flooring were located in China, India, Canada, Mexico and Turkey.