20085 Thu, 12/09/2010 - 12:20pm
Now that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Twofer Tuesday (I made that one up) are behind us, the industry can focus on more important things—like this riddle: How does a house expand when it’s getting smaller?
Recent statistics show that the average, new American home is shrinking, specifically with fewer bedrooms and bathrooms. Makes sense, considering the economy. Smaller homes require less energy, allowing the owner to save money and be more green. Plus, there aren’t as many McMansions being built as even well-off consumers are living with less.
OK, so we’ve established the American home is getting smaller, but how is it simultaneously growing? It’s expanding to the outdoors.
Backyards, patios, sunrooms, decks, porches—no matter what they’re called, most homes now have some outside living environment. And homeowners are using theirs like never before.
Consumers looking to save money are entertaining at home more often. Would-be vacationers are staying home for staycations.
Meanwhile, Americans seeking sustainability and a greener lifestyle are spending more time outdoors. Backyard vegetable gardens are gaining in popularity, while some ambitious suburbanites are raising chickens. Composting is a hot topic for discussion.
For many consumers with real winters, springs, summers and falls, outdoor living has expanded to three and even four seasons. Seemingly every home has a firepit these days, and hearty outdoor chefs grill all year long.
Of course the home furnishings industry has noticed the increased predilection for outdoor living. For an industry expecting the slightest of upticks in sales for the year ahead, the outdoor category is one of the few where substantial growth can be expected.
Makers—and sellers—of outdoor items are vying for a piece of the outdoor pie. The most obvious category—outdoor furniture—is looking for a big jump in 2011.
Remember when outdoor furniture used to mean picnic tables in the backyard? Numerous new backyard collections completely forego the dining element and are comprised of sitting areas with sofas and loveseats instead of dining tables. The sitting-area trend has sparked introductions and sales in nearly every home furnishings category including outdoor rugs, tabletop collections, lighting, pillows and decor.
Many of these new items—plus some that most of us have never even thought of—will be highlighted at two of the upcoming January shows. The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and the Dallas Total Home and Gift Market are highlighting outdoor sections to feed this growing market.
The Dallas Market Center has expanded its shared Outdoor Living Showroom. The grand reopening of the 31,000-square-foot-space will include home and garden products plus seminars, refreshments and prize giveaways.
Meanwhile, AmericasMart will feature a section called Birding & Backyard Nature. Buyers can shop bird feeders, bird houses, wildlife art, recycled nature products and water garden supplies and decor.
Despite the fact that the holidays and cold weather are upon us, I’ll meet you outside.