The flooring industry, like the rest of the world, experienced some significant ups and downs in 2020.
But when the pandemic started, we at Broadlume analyzed consumer trends and made an outspoken prediction—that shutdowns and stay-at-home orders would actually increase flooring sales by leading to pent-up consumer demand.
In fact, all the way back in March, we went so far as to say that for flooring dealers, the best was yet to come.
Now that 2020 is finally drawing to a close, we at Broadlume (parent company of FloorForce, Creating Your Space, and FlooringStores) have teamed up with Measure Square and Credit Suisse to bring the flooring industry a follow up to our March prediction—and to find out how true (or not) it turned out to be.
Macroeconomic Housing and Work-From-Home Trends
To understand how the flooring industry performed in 2020 (and to predict how it will do in 2021), we first have to look at macroeconomic housing and work-from-home trends.
The Number of People Staying at Home Increased Tremendously in 2020
As shown by the graphs below (courtesy of Credit Suisse), the percentage of workers staying at home increased tremendously with the beginning of the pandemic in March—eventually peaking with April’s widespread shutdown orders. Unsurprisingly, this also contributed to a rapid decrease in office occupancy rates.
But While That Trend Has Leveled Off, Office Occupancy Rates Still Haven’t Recovered
Of course, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has read the news in the past 10 months. What is notable, however, is that while the percentage of people staying at home has decreased as we have learned to work remotely, we have not seen a corresponding increase in office occupancy rates.
In fact, while the number of people staying at home during the day is roughly 6% above where it was pre-pandemic, office occupancy rates are still roughly 75% below where they were pre-pandemic.
Translation: while people are not “staying at home”, they aren’t returning to offices, either. Instead, they have widely repurposed their homes into workspaces and are now working remotely from home offices.
What Do These Work-From-Home Trends Mean for the Flooring Industry?
From this information, we can draw three conclusions.
- The first: more people are now working from home rather than simply staying at home.
- The second: more and more people are transforming their personal space into home offices.
- The third: more repurposed space means more physical remodeling—and more remodeling means more flooring sales.
Meanwhile, Housing Sales and Prices Have Continued to Rise Above Pre-Pandemic Levels
While the beginning of the pandemic took a bite out of the housing market, the graphs below demonstrate that home sales and prices have nevertheless increased far above pre-pandemic levels.
This helped boost the flooring industry throughout 2020, and should continue to help the flooring industry see increased sales heading into the back half of 2021.
Additionally, There is Still Significant Unfulfilled Housing Demand
Not only are home sales and appreciation above pre-COVID levels, but there is now significant unfulfilled housing demand, too. This is most likely due to the fact that more and more workers are shifting away from offices—meaning they’re spending more time at home, and therefore need more space. This is a positive flywheel playing in the favor of future flooring demand.
What do These Housing Trends Mean for the Flooring Industry?
As always, increased housing demand (and increased home prices) mean increased sales for the flooring industry.
When housing prices appreciate, sellers are more likely to install new floors to capitalize on the ROI offered by a bull market. And the more homes that sell, the more new homeowners purchase surfaces to better suit their needs.
All in all, the housing market has been a boon for the flooring industry throughout the back half of this year—and there is every indication that it will continue to be so throughout the next.
Digital Performance is Another Great Way to Measure Success and Future Performance
While these macroeconomic trends paint a high-level picture of the flooring industry’s 2020 success, they are not the only way to measure the health of the industry as a whole.
Digital performance—the way the flooring industry performed online—is perhaps an even more accurate indication of how 2020 treated the average flooring dealer. Moreover, it’s a better way to predict how the industry will do in 2021.
Consumer Searches for Flooring Stores Hit a 5-Year High in 2020
As demonstrated by the graph below, consumer searches for “flooring stores” on Google hit a 5-year high in 2020. In fact, Google saw a 2x increase in consumers searching for flooring stores in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Searches for Specific Types of Flooring Increased As Well
This increase in searches for flooring stores shows increased consumer demand. But searches for specific flooring products also increased, which is another good sign for the industry.
Why? Increased searches for specific types of flooring suggest a higher percentage of consumers that are further along in the sales funnel—who are more likely to purchase new floors rather than simply browse for them.
And Resilient’s Dominance Has Continued to Grow
In the graph above, you can see recent Google search trends for different generic flooring types. Carpet flooring and hardwood flooring haven’t increased much—if at all—since 2019. Vinyl flooring, on the other hand, has grown tremendously.
Moreover, hyper-specific search terms related to resilient flooring such as best vinyl plank flooring brands, vinyl plank vs. laminate, and disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring have likewise increased. All in all, resilient’s dominance is continuing to grow at an amazing rate.
Local Searches Are Up as Well
Although more and more people are shopping from home, local searches are up as well. In fact, Google searches that include the phrase “available near me” are up over 100% vs. last year.
Translation: though e-commerce may be picking up steam, there is still a massive demand for local retailers.
Our Data Shows That 2020 Was a Great Year for the Flooring Industry—And Others Agree
When we combine this year’s macroeconomic info and digital trends data, we can measure the approximate performance of the flooring industry as a whole. And the data suggests that, despite the worst disaster in a century, 2020 was an excellent year for flooring dealers. Our dealers agree—some even claim that 2020 was their best year ever in terms of sales.
MeasureSquare’s Data Says the Same
According to MeasureSquare, measured projects are already up 5% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
And so Does our Advertising Data
Consumer click-through rates on digital advertising are up 26% as compared to 2019, and consumer conversion rates on digital advertising are up 38% as compared to 2019.
All in all, 2020 was a year of true ups and downs. But like we said in March, the best really was yet to come. We hope this end-of-year wrap-up has been informative, eye-opening, and interesting. And we hope this year was as good for your flooring business as the data would suggest.
As always, though, data doesn’t tell the whole story—and we want to hear yours. Please reach out to me directly if you have any questions about this information, or to learn how you can use our info to generate more sales for your flooring store. My email is email@example.com.
PS: We Cannot Stress This Enough—Stay Open Over the Holidays
One last thing! If you want to finish 2020 strong, make sure to stay open over the holidays. As you can see from the graph below, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of the highest in terms of form submissions.
And of course, form submissions are an excellent leading indicator of potential sales!