Reclining Furniture – A Look at the Latest Features and Trends

The recliner is a longtime favorite among people who value comfort in their homes. Over the years, this beloved piece of furniture has advanced with the times to include many features that previous generations would have never considered.

Today’s consumers can also find recliners in a wide variety of styles, fabrics, and sizes to fit any home, budget, and design scheme. Additionally, multi-seater reclining sofas are becoming increasingly popular as more people look to boost the comfort level in their homes and commercial spaces such as theaters, auditoriums, and office reception areas. If you’re in the market for new reclining furniture, check out the following features and trends that are driving this area of furniture retail.


Current Trends

According to a recent Consumer Trends Buying Survey from Furniture Today, casual styles of reclining chairs are the most readily available in furniture stores. In 2017, these styles accounted for nearly 40 percent of all the reclining units on showroom floors. Among the styles, those selling at middle ($500 to $899) and low price points (below $499) are the most popular. Furniture Today’s survey also revealed that while leather is the most popular covering for recliners, a variety of fabrics are available, including faux leather, vinyl, and polyurethane. Recently, “green” fabrics have also significantly increased in popularity because more consumers are looking for sustainable furniture options.

In the area of reclining sofas, recent research from Technavio shows that increasing demand from younger consumers, particularly millennials, is driving the market. These and other consumer groups are turning more frequently to private-label and niche furniture brands for their reclining furniture. However, well-established retailers such as Ashley HomeStores are still playing a major role in connecting consumers with these furniture styles. In fact, the increasing demand for reclining sofas is driving retailers of all sizes to expand their product offerings in this area.


Available Features

As is the case with other areas of life, technology is finding its way into the furniture that people use each day. This is quite evident in the latest features that you will find in reclining furniture of all styles and sizes. Along with the classic comfort that recliners offer, today’s consumers can now enjoy phone chargers, LED lights, full-body massagers, and Bluetooth capability built into their recliners. Even lower-end reclining pieces are receiving a boost from more subtle features such as power-activated footrests and headrests.



Types of Recliners

As far as basic styles are concerned, the reclining furniture market is certainly not limited. Furniture stores carry a wide variety of traditional recliners with plush padding and an overstuffed look alongside sleek and contemporary pieces with sharp lines and angular edges. Other popular styles are more transitional. These options work well in both classic design schemes and contemporary spaces. Timeless styles that are still widely available include club chair and high-leg recliners, which offer a reclining feature without the recliner look.

In addition to a range of styles, recliners offer several options when it comes to the types of reclining mechanisms they use. One of the main options is the pushback recliner, which you can recline by pushing on the chair’s back while holding the arms. Other recliners have a mechanical handle, lever, or pull-loop to activate the reclining mechanism. In most cases, these options feature two positions: upright and fully reclined.

Along with basic power recliners that recline with the touch of a button, there are also fully automated power chairs available that both recline and lift. Many of these offer several reclining positions, as well as a rising mechanism that enables a person to get on their feet safely and easily. This option, which is typically referred to as a riser recliner, is most well-suited for individuals with mobility issues. While they can be pricey, riser recliners may qualify for rebates if they’re purchased for medical reasons.


Purchasing Considerations

If you’re ready to purchase a new piece of reclining furniture, there are several things to consider. Once you’ve established your preferred style, your next step should be to evaluate how much space you have for your new furniture. Be sure to account for the space you’ll need when the piece is fully reclined. You’ll want one that you can recline without making it difficult for others to move throughout the room. Also, whether it’s a reclining chair or sofa, you need to make sure that you have enough space in the back to recline without bumping into walls or other furniture.

Other important considerations to keep in mind are the materials used to build the recliner. In many cases, reclining pieces are among the most popular furniture items in a home. Because of this, it’s important to select a piece that is durable and resistant to staining. Leather and microfiber are both good covering options for durability and stain resistance. It’s also a good idea to opt for reclining furniture with high-density foam cushions, which will hold their shape under frequent use.

Of course, before making a purchase, you should be sure to try out the piece out in both the upright and reclining positions. The best recliners will be sturdy and comfortable and feature easy-to-use reclining mechanisms with smooth action.

cat on bed

Here Are 10 Bed Styles You Need to Know

When it comes to the ultimate comfort items in the home, the bed comes to mind. Most people will spend an average of eight hours a day in their beds. This makes finding the right one a priority.

Most people have a good grasp of the basic mattress sizes for the bedroom. However, not everyone has a thorough understanding of the many different types of bed frames that are available through their local furniture retailer.

There are dozens of bed types, but only a few of them are widely-known. Here’s a quick list to help you identify some common bed styles and learn more about the benefits they offer:


  1. Platform/Panel

A very popular option in the United States, the platform bed features clean lines and a headboard but no footboard. Platforms also sit lower to the ground than other bed styles. They utilize wooden slats to support the mattress without requiring a box spring.

Panel beds are almost identical to the platform style. However, their design enables the use of both a box spring and a mattress.


  1. Sleigh

The sleigh bed is named after its curved headboard (and footboard if it has one). This style resembles an old-fashioned wooden sleigh. Most examples of this style also feature large side panels that further accentuate the “sleigh” feel.

It is important to note that these side panels also limit the storage space under the bed. While they aren’t designed to provide storage, sleigh beds offer a distinct look that will stand out in any bedroom. They also come in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and even leather.


  1. Divan

Unlike the sleigh style of beds, divan beds are designed with storage in mind. Although these beds sit directly on the floor, they typically feature drawers built into the base.

Along with providing a space-saving storage solution, the thick base also adds to the overall sturdiness of the bed. Another attractive feature of the divan is its cushioned headboard. As a result, this style is perfect for those who enjoy a bit of reading or television before falling asleep.


  1. TV Bed

Another option for those who enjoy some entertainment before sleep is the TV bed. This modern style features an oversized footboard that discreetly hides an LED television inside.

Depending on the model, the TV lifts out of the frame either manually or electronically. Some also include built-in speaker systems and space beneath the mattress for media players and game consoles.

Along with accommodating movie and TV lovers, these beds are great for those who are tight on bedroom space.


  1. Cabin Bed

While they are very similar to a traditional bunk bed, cabin beds are lower to the ground and only include a single sleeping bunk. Instead of a second bed, this style features space beneath the bed frame that is typically used for drawers, shelves, and other storage solutions. Cabin beds are the perfect option for parents looking to control clutter in their child’s bedroom.


  1. Mid-Sleeper

Another member of the bunk-bed family, the mid-sleeper is a raised bed with a detachable ladder leading to the mattress and tall sideboards around the frame to prevent children from falling off.

Like the cabin bed, mid-sleepers feature storage under the main frame. They also offer additional space underneath to accommodate a desk or provide an extra play area.


  1. Trundle

Featuring two beds in one, the trundle includes a second mattress that tucks neatly under the main frame. Trundle beds are great for bedrooms housing kids and teens. They also work well in guest rooms and cramped apartments.


  1. Poster

The poster bed is easily recognizable thanks to the four vertical columns located at each corner of the frame. These beds come in several different styles.

Poster bed styles include the pencil poster, which features tall, thin, and pointed posts, and the low poster, which has posts that are only a few inches tall. The half-poster bed is another option. It has tall posts on the headboards and much shorter posts attached to the footboard corners.


  1. Murphy Bed

The ultimate space-saver, the Murphy bed has grown in popularity in recent years as more people embrace smaller living environments. These hideaway beds fold up vertically and can be stored against a wall or tucked into a closet.

The Murphy bed is named after William L. Murphy, an inventor who patented the folding bed design in the early 20th century. Similar folding beds, however, date back to Thomas Jefferson’s time.


  1. Ottoman Bed

Another option for those with cramped sleeping quarters is the ottoman bed. This style comes with a large, hidden storage compartment underneath the main bed frame and mattress.

Thanks to a convenient lifting system with gas struts, these beds can be opened easily to access the storage space below. There are also innovative ottoman bed designs that look like an ordinary footrest but unfold into a twin or double bed for guests.


Here Are the Top Colors and Designs in Furniture Upholstery

As a key component of interior spaces, furniture plays an important role in the overall design scheme of a home. Staying on-trend requires stylish furniture pieces that can make a statement while fitting in seamlessly with the latest “hot” interior looks.

Unlike more affordable accessories such as pillows and drapes, however, furniture is a semi-permanent interior fixture that isn’t swapped out according to the season. The long-lasting nature of quality furniture requires designers and manufacturers to walk a fine line in order to blend timeless style with trending colors, patterns, and materials.

Industry leaders do this through the use of upholstery, which often reflects the trending looks that are showing up throughout the home. So, what are the latest trends driving upholstery and interior textile design? Keep reading for an overview of the new looks that are likely to stick around.


Welcome the Return of Color


Throughout the 90s and well into the 2000s, a preference for subdued colors dominated the home furnishings and interior design industries. This meant beiges and other neutral tones were the top choices for chair, sofa, and ottoman coverings. For the past several years, however, color has been making a strong comeback, and it’s now poised to become a lasting trend. Some of the top color choices for furniture include:

Deep blues. While blue in general has made a comeback, the most popular blue for furniture and other design elements is navy. Navy can act as a strong neutral for adding contrast and richness to pastels, whites, and other light colors. Navy also looks great when tastefully paired with other deep blues, such as sapphire and the bluish-green petrol.

Vibrant greens. Like dark blue hues, a stylish green tone can also act as striking neutral alongside a variety of colors. The list of greens that are finding their way onto sofas and chairs include emerald, kale, and other nature-inspired shades. Another top choice for green upholstery is teal, which works surprisingly well next to everything from red and blue to yellow and orange.

Subdued pinks. In recent years, pink has become more of a gender-neutral color than it once was. This is inspiring more people to embrace pinkish hues within the home. One of 2017’s hottest colors was “millennial pink,” a very light shade that remains a popular choice for furniture and other interior design elements. Other pinks to look out for include subtle blushes, striking fuchsias, and eye-catching berry tones.

Rich yellows and golds. Typically used to provide bold accents, bright yellows and metallic-inspired golds are beginning to show up more on a variety of furniture pieces. Rich mustard hues are also on-trend. Many designers today are even pairing yellow-based furniture with pink and terracotta colors to create an earthy combo within the home.


Embracing Plush Velvet and Performance Fabrics


In line with a trend that embraces luxury and glamour, velvet has become a very popular upholstery choice. Whether it’s used as a furniture accent or complete covering, this plush fabric can add a touch of elegance to both formal and more relaxed living areas.

The velvet trend has been gaining momentum for the last several years, but it is now becoming mainstream thanks in large part to advances in fabric technology. Unlike its predecessors, today’s velvet is both soft and plush while also remaining stain-, fade-, and abrasion-resistant. The fabric is also available in a wide range of colors and patterns, so it can be incorporated into a variety of design schemes.

Along with welcoming velvet, more consumers are showing an interest in stylish, durable performance fabrics. Like velvet, these synthetic upholstery choices have also improved significantly in terms of style, comfort, and functionality.

Manufacturers have even begun to create more textural performance fabrics. These choices provide a distinctive look and feel while also adding durability and performance qualities to both indoor and outdoor furnishings. In recent years, the demand for performance fabric has led to significant growth in this area of the market, which is projected to reach almost $80 billion by 2020.


Back-to-Nature Prints and Varied Textures

floral pattern

Florals and other nature-inspired patterns have always had a place in home decor. However, they are becoming more popular as an increasing number of people move away from the long-standing minimalist design aesthetic.

Along with bold colors and luxurious fabrics, a trend toward maximalist interior themes is leading furniture manufacturers to incorporate detailed patterns into their designs. Tropical themes, animal prints, and bird motifs are all on-trend. Tribal looks and oversized floral patterns are also popular.

The move away from minimalism is also sparking greater demand for textural home furnishings. Everything from weaving and ruffles to rugged ruching and looped embroidery effects are helping furniture designers create fresh looks for cushions and pillows.

Also, while large, plump cushions are trending in living room furniture, many consumers are opting for the vintage-inspired textured look of sofas featuring distinct button and channel tufting.

Here Are the Top Trends from the Most Recent High Point Market

High Point MarketThe most recent Fall High Point Market wrapped up on October 18, 2017, closing out five days of collection debuts, style presentations, networking events, and several other exciting opportunities for the home furnishings industry. This year, over 80,000 people visited the International Market Center in High Point, North Carolina, to survey the emerging products and styles that are taking the industry by storm. With the highly anticipated event now behind us, it’s time to take a moment to summarize the trends that dominated the Fall 2017 High Point Market.


Several showrooms featured pieces with unique forms and profiles. These furnishings represented new takes on traditional styles and offered shoppers a fresh way to breathe life into the home’s major living spaces. Showcased products included many sectional sofas that deviated from the traditional L-shaped form. To change things up, brands including Christopher Guy, Lee, and Highland House presented sectionals with more gradual curves, sloping backs, and finer geometric angles. Some pieces, such as the Epidote sofa designed by Jean-Louis Deniot for Baker, featured an in-the-round shape, offering a unique focal point sure to facilitate conversation in any living room.


Market attendees surveying the trends in dining furniture were likely to notice an influx of elongated, oval dining tables. While round and rectangular pieces have prevailed in recent years, oval tables are now adding interest to both casual and formal dining areas. Some, such as Hickory Chair’s table with ornate wood inlays, would be right at home in a traditional formal dining area. Others, such as Made Goods’ table featuring a smooth concrete surface atop light wood legs, convey a more laidback, modern aesthetic.


AkzoNobel, a trusted resource for furniture coatings, took on the lofty responsibility of presenting the official color of 2018. The firm selected “Heartwood,” a soft pink shade frequently seen in both apparel and home décor in recent years, as the hue that will dominate the home furnishings sector in the coming months. The color’s name refers to the dense center portion of a tree, which often shares the same hue.

In addition to Heartwood’s soft, warm shade, several showrooms at the High Point Market featured color schemes that revolved around complementary and near-complementary tones. Combinations of blue and orange, green and violent, and cream and brown dominated several product sectors, adorning everything from throw pillows to light fixtures. These unique color combinations offer consumers and designers an opportunity to add youthful energy to any room, in the form of vibrant and electric patterns.


Two very different materials have recently achieved growing popularity among furniture retailers and designers. The first, shearling, appeared in the form of upholstered chairs, stools, and ottomans from brands including Nathan Anthony, Mary McDonald at Chaddock, and Hancock & Moore. The plush white material is capable of adding either a modern flair or cozy vintage appeal to a room, depending on the lines and other materials incorporated into the piece.


Concrete was also a common staple throughout High Point showrooms. The material frequently appeared, perhaps unexpectedly, in light fixtures, providing ample opportunities for dramatic contrast. Popular pieces blended the smooth, stark appearance of stone with soft lighting, graceful lights, and even plants, in the case of a combination table lamp and planter designed by Currey & Company. Going forward, shoppers should expect to see plenty of hanging pendant lights, table lamps, and additional light fixtures adding a modern pop of texture to rooms throughout the home.


A few noteworthy aesthetic styles appeared across a number of different showrooms. Many brands showcased a thoughtful blend of historic and modern styles by allowing wood tones such as cherry and mahogany to dominate their designs, placing the focus on the beauty of the materials themselves by allowing distressed details to shine through. Many designers took this tendency toward natural materials a bit farther, featuring weathered, organic, and handcrafted pieces that convey beauty through their imperfections.

Contrasting with this shift toward natural and artisan styles, several furniture designers highlighted the emerging interest in modern Scandinavian furnishings, which provide a light and airy appeal with clean lines and brighter wood tones. Furniture bathed in pearl and metallic finishes, frequently paired with stark angles, mixed materials, and accents of gold and silver, also filled showrooms.

High Point Market’s Trend Watch program, which offers an annual overview of the styles to pay attention to at each upcoming market, also noted a growing interest in dramatic curation. Increasingly, home décor selections suggest a desire for personal expression, whether on the part of designers or home owners. Innovative and eye-catching light fixtures, chairs, tabletop decorations, wall hangings, and other pieces are providing opportunities for consumers to make their home truly their own. Reflecting this trend, interior design schemes are featuring less emphasis on cohesiveness and instead showcasing unique pieces that, while complementary, offer a vibrancy all their own.


3 of the Best Ways to Create a Sustainable E-Commerce Strategy

Technology and sustainability are currently two of the most significant factors driving furniture industry trends. Now more than ever, consumers desire a retail experience that is convenient, intuitive, and as close to instantaneous as possible.

At the same time, however, they seek the assurance that the companies they support are having a positive impact on the world. In fact, a recent Nielsen study involving participants from 60 countries found that 55 percent of consumers would be willing to pay a higher price for a product or service from a company with a commitment to environmental stewardship.


The world of e-commerce is growing rapidly. At $97.3 million, total US online retail sales in the second quarter of 2016 alone were up 15.8 percent from the year prior. This rapid e-commerce growth has extended to the furniture industry, where some 15 percent of all 2015 sales took place online.

The logistical and technological resources necessary to create an engaging e-commerce platform can easily increase a company’s carbon footprint. The following are strategies furniture companies – and firms across every sector – can utilize to weave environmental consciousness into the fabric of their e-commerce strategies.

Tip #1: Consider Energy Efficient Web Hosting and Design

The amount of energy required to load a web page can vary based on its design and server needs. Websites that include a limited amount of resource-draining applications – such as Flash videos or JavaScript widgets – require less processing power to load and are therefore more energy efficient.

Companies can also make their retail websites more sustainable by using images as efficiently as possible. While high-quality pictures are a necessity in a retail sector such as home furnishings, firms should consider using lower-resolution photos on search result pages in order to conserve processing power.

Other web design adjustments that can increase the load speed of a website and decrease its energy requirements include the use of browser caching and the use of printer-friendly page options. The color of a retailer’s website can even impact its energy efficiency. Because bold or dark colors require more energy to load, simple page layouts with a large amount of white space will yield faster page load times.

Tip #2: Develop Sustainable Packing and Logistics Strategies

Shipping is a key strategic consideration for any online retailer, but for a furniture company, logistics can pose significant challenges and opportunities. Tasked with delivering cumbersome and often-fragile items in a safe and timely manner, furniture companies must take extra care to craft efficient and sustainable logistics strategies.

They can begin with packaging. Inefficient packaging not only requires a greater amount of energy to transport, but can also create excessive pollution. Furniture companies should strive to improve their logistics sustainably by developing packaging that uses eco-friendly materials, such as responsibly-sourced cardboard that is Cradle to Cradle or Forestry Stewardship Council certified. Companies should avoid using Styrofoam, which is not biodegradable, and instead seek alternative, sustainable filling materials.

shipping box

In designing their packaging, furniture retailers should aim for efficient boxes that are as streamlined as possible. In addition to reducing the cost of packaging materials and allowing for more efficient shipping, this can also help increase a company’s speed to market, offering new value to consumers.

Another simple way to improve the sustainability of furniture shipping practices is to reduce the amount of paperwork included in the box. Retailers should use electronic invoices whenever possible and consider allowing customers to opt to receive warranty information and instruction manuals online.

Furniture companies can gain an advantage in pursuing their sustainability goals by partnering with a logistics service provider. Certain providers with a commitment to green operations may offer payment options to help offset a retailer’s carbon footprint, and logistics firms can also provide data analysis tools to assess a company’s environmental efficiency.

In addition, online furniture retailers must ensure that their reverse supply chain is just as efficient as their initial delivery strategy. Because online purchases often carry an increased likelihood of returns, it is important to develop environmentally sustainable methods of facilitating product returns, repairs, and replacements. This is a boon not only for the environment, but also for a company’s customer service and brand image.

Tip #3: Harness Customer Engagement

By involving consumers in their sustainability initiatives, furniture retailers can have a positive environmental impact that extends far beyond their own operations. One potential strategy is to offer sustainability-minded incentives, such as donations to ecological organizations or pledges to offset carbon emissions, to new social media or website subscribers.

As furniture retailers develop online brand images that complement their e-commerce offerings, they can use social media platforms to encourage a greener lifestyle. For example, a company may launch a blog wherein they offer not only furniture design trend news, but also easy tips for sustainable living.

Online furniture retailers seeking to improve their sustainability initiatives might also find that they can accomplish this by involving customers in their logistics processes. Services such as UPS My Choice or UPS Access Point allow consumers to update and personalize their delivery times and locations. This may decrease the inconvenience, financial cost, and environmental burden posed by missed deliveries and repeated delivery attempts.

Las Vegas

A Preview of the Las Vegas Market’s Latest First Look Trends

lasvegasmarketlogoTwice a year, thousands of people gather for the Las Vegas Market, one of the home furnishing industry’s preeminent trade shows. Most recently, the Winter 2017 Las Vegas Market drew industry professionals from all 50 states and approximately 80 countries to the World Market Center, where top manufacturers, retailers, and designers displayed their wares across approximately 170,000 square feet of showroom space.

Now, event organizers are preparing for the next iteration of the fastest-growing home furnishings market in the nation. From July 30 to August 3, attendees will explore over 4,000 resources presenting the latest trends in furniture, gifts, and home décor sectors. Prior to each event, the Las Vegas Market will offer a preview of the visual themes and motifs that attendees can expect to see on the showroom floor. Recently released ahead of the Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market, the market’s latest First Look trends include the following:


  • Modern Tradition

Las Vegas Market’s introductory First Look Trends for Summer 2017 recognizes the meaning behind thoughtfully furnished spaces in the home. Focused on customs that bring families together to eat, share, talk, and simply enjoy one another’s company, this First Look motif includes products suitable for gatherings and celebrations of all kinds. Modern Tradition spans furniture for the dining room and family room that primarily reflects the clean lines, neutral palettes, unique textures, and overall minimalist approach of modern and transitional aesthetics. At the same time, the theme will also include a number of seasonal and holiday decorations and accessories for occasions including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

  • iGen

Each year, one of the market’s First Look themes highlights emerging trends in bedroom furnishings and décor. For the bedroom vignette for summer 2017, market organizers will zero in on the fastest-growing segment of furniture shoppers: millennials. Also extending to members of Generation Z, iGen will be the first bedroom motif to include styles for tweens.

The pieces included in iGen reflect prevailing ideas about what makes today’s adolescents and young adults truly unique. The motif takes into consideration the compassion, innovative spirit, responsible nature, and inquisitiveness of today’s upcoming generations to present a selection of practical and functional pieces ideal for modern lifestyles. These will include unisex and multifunctional bedroom furniture, as well as lighting, rugs, wall art, and more. Trends in this motif will also highlight the ever-increasing role of technology in modern life, presenting furniture with solutions for storing and managing technology.

Furniture industry professionals stand to gain a strategic advantage by paying close mind to the iGen motif. Millennials already comprise the largest generational segment of furniture buyers. They accounted for 37 percent of all home furnishings sales in 2014 and have continued to increase their buying power in recent years.

  • Water Signs

For this summer’s outdoor category motif, the Las Vegas Market will transport viewers to a world of sandy beaches and gentle lapping waves. The theme will encompass a number of casual lounge furnishings and outdoor accessories in summery white and blue tones.

In addition to seating sets, fire pits, and other major outdoor pieces, this motif will showcase supplies for the perfect day at the beach, including portable umbrellas, beachwear, and all-weather picnic sets. This category represents another opportunity for furniture firms to cater to the younger generations. Millennials are currently the fastest-growing segment of outdoor furniture buyers, and they are increasingly on the lookout for affordable, versatile pieces to add to their outdoor oases.

  • Handmade

This design motif will likely offer something for all Las Vegas Market guests. Highlighting the incredible skills of top artisans from around the world, Handmade will showcase a selection of handmade goods from various geographies and sectors, ranging from furnishings to gifts and decorations.

Diving Deeper

Now in its 13th iteration, Las Vegas Market’s First Look style guide not only previews the prevailing aesthetic trends in home furnishings and decor, but it also showcases a wide range of practical applications for each design theme. Prior to each market, organizers invite exhibitors to submit products that align with each First Look trend. Drawing on these submissions, the market creates elaborate product vignettes on the Grand Plaza of the World Market Center, providing thoughtfully composed merchandise displays to stoke the creativity of attendees from every sector.

Las Vegas Market will also provide a more detailed look at its First Look trends via the First Look Guide, a publication filled to the brim with new products and design ideas. Additionally, attendees have the opportunity to delve into the latest style forecasts in-person at the First Look seminar. Held the morning of July 31, the seminar will feature First Look curator and experienced magazine editor Julie Smith Vincenti leading an exploration of the trends that are taking the home furnishings sector by storm.


The Furniture Industry Is Now More Competitive Than Ever

While the American furniture industry once primarily comprised large, family-owned companies, the sector’s landscape is now far more complex. Economic turbulence, technological innovations, and shifting consumer trends have shaken up the market, leaving players to contend with a greater number of competitors and strategic challenges than ever before. Read on to learn how to navigate this increasingly crowded market.

Renewed Economic Growth

Prior to 2007, the relative size and product scope of America’s major furniture companies had created a largely equal playing field that left many competitors neck-and-neck. Any competitive advantages or disadvantages tended to be short term, and smaller, independent retailers primarily competed within their own local markets.


The economic turbulence of the Great Recession led to the emergence of a more varied and dynamic furniture industry. From 2007 to 2015, widespread economic decline caused some 12,000 furniture stores to close their doors. Fortunately, the sector has shown strong signs of recovery. The furniture and home furnishings market has surged at a compound growth rate of 4.1 percent over the past five years, reaching a value of $96.57 billion in 2016.

As the addition of new furniture retail outlets in major markets across the nation heralds the industry’s return to prosperity, much of this growth is coming from familiar faces. As smaller retailers folded to the pressure of the recession, several larger independent and regional companies have seized the opportunity to branch into newly accessible markets such as Dallas, Phoenix, and Chicago. But while these major players continue to expand, the ever-growing presence of technology is allowing new competitors to stake their claim within the digital sphere.

The Evolving Retail Experience

Consumers’ shopping habits have changed, and furniture companies face new challenges in attracting people to stores. In addition to opening new retail locations in order to fill the void left by smaller entities exiting the market, larger companies have also sought to expand their reach to meet shifting consumer demands.

Today’s furniture shoppers are beginning to favor geographic convenience over the concept of an elaborate furniture retail destination. While it was not uncommon for shoppers to visit four or five different furniture retailers before making a purchase 10 years ago, people are now shopping at just one or two different locations. In order to make this coveted shortlist, retailers are opening more stores in a more varied selection of markets.

This influx of new retail locations has greatly diversified the options available to consumers. While independent furniture retailers have relinquished some of their market share, lifestyle stores, specialty bedding companies, and vertically integrated brands such as Ashley HomeStore have attracted a larger portion of sales. In addition, the Internet stands out as the fastest-growing channel among non-traditional furniture retail platforms—by 2015, e-commerce accounted for 19 percent of all furniture sales.

Although e-commerce should be a major strategic consideration for every furniture retailer going forward, growth in online sales has slowed, indicating that many consumers still want to see and touch a major furniture purchase before taking it home. Brands now face the task of making brick-and-mortar stores worthwhile destinations for consumers in the digital age. Even Amazon, the global giant in online retail, has expressed the possibility of establishing brick-and-mortar furniture stores.

Rising Costs

Greater competition and an otherwise dynamic business landscape have created new financial needs for furniture retailers. As companies add more stores with more elaborate designs, many of them in emerging high-income markets, they face higher occupancy costs. Some traditional strategies assume that an increase in brand presence will reduce the need for advertising, allowing a smaller marketing budget to offset increased occupancy expenses.


However, the explosion of e-commerce has created new advertising costs as well. The need to create customer-friendly, efficient online shopping platforms; effective email and text outreach efforts; and an engaging social media presence have all impacted the advertising budgets of most furniture retailers.

Following the Trends

Faced with the challenge of rising occupancy costs, changing advertising strategies, and greater competition for customers’ attention, furniture retailers must heed emerging consumer trends in order to stand out in the crowd. While digital disruption has made e-commerce and social media important for companies seeking to reach new audiences, a retailer’s technical capabilities are not the most prominent selling point for most consumers.

In fact, a recent consumer survey conducted by The Fuld Institute of Competitive Strategy found that, among furniture shoppers who had made a purchase over the last two years, price beat out other factors such as quality, convenience, and brand name to serve as the most influential decision-making factor. This suggests that furniture companies may be able to gain a competitive edge by appealing to more modest budgets, or by expanding into innovative territories such as multiuse furniture.

Furniture retailers can also connect with consumers by respecting their preference for personalized service. As big data and technology facilitate curated subscription boxes, music platforms, and other consumer services that cater to individual needs and tastes, shoppers have come to expect more options throughout the buying process. By taking full advantage of customer research and technology to deliver services such as product recommendations, custom order processes, and home design tools, companies can better cater to the needs of the modern consumer.


4 Ways Ashley Furniture Is Making a Difference in the World

With more than 600 showrooms located throughout 28 countries, Ashley Furniture HomeStore is one of the top furniture retailers not only in the United States, but in the world. While the company has had a monumental impact on the retail furniture industry, it has also leveraged its success to support and empower local communities by providing assistance to individuals in need. Over the past year, several Ashley Furniture corporate social responsibility initiatives have supported communities across the United States. These efforts include:

  1. Hope to Dream

A Hope to Dream logoIn February 2017, Ashley Furniture HomeStore partnered with the Miami Dolphins to host a sleepover party at the NFL team’s practice facilities. In previous years, Ashley has partnered with other teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars, to host similar events in its Hope to Dream initiative, which provides underserved youth with the experience of a lifetime and years of healthy, comfortable sleep. At the recent Florida event, each sleepover attendee received a brand-new twin-size bed and bedding set—complete with a Miami Dolphins comforter—courtesy of Ashley HomeStore and the Dolphins organization. Organizers facilitated delivery of the new bed sets to the children’s homes, but not before they took part in an evening of fun and games with the Miami Dolphins players, mascot, and cheerleaders. After eating dinner, the kids took part in several fun activities on the practice field, concluding the memorable night with a dance party.

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture HomeStore has set aside a portion of mattress sales from several US locations to fund the Hope to Dream program, providing some 40,000 new beds and bedding sets to children in need across the country. The program not only includes partnerships with professional sports teams like the Dolphins, but it also benefits from local efforts in communities such as Liberal, Kansas, which launched its first Hope to Dream program in December 2016, and North Brunswick, New Jersey, where 50 children recently received new beds in a surprise holiday celebration.

  1. Ashley’s Angels

Ashley’s Angels is Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to providing extra assistance to children from low-income households. It has been a charitable arm of Ashley Furniture since 1997, when a truck driver based at one of the company’s Mississippi facilities rallied the support of his colleagues to help a young girl and her mother find a home. The community set out to help the pair move out of their car and into suitable housing weeks before Christmas, also donating food and clothing to help them get back on their feet.

This act of compassion and community spirit inspired a national movement; now, Ashley’s Angels provides food, toys, bedding, and warm clothing to hundreds of children each year. In 2016 alone, the nonprofit raised $174,385.76, with nearly $75,000 coming from employee contributions. These funds allowed them to serve children throughout 56 school districts near Ashley Furniture facilities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare for event, partnering with school guidance counselors and nurses to identify children who could benefit from a bit of extra help. In addition to shopping for new toys and clothing, volunteers also put together a full Christmas dinner for each recipient family. All in all, the effort helped to brighten the holidays of 1,056 children.

  1. Salvation Army Partnership

salvation army

Image by Mike Mozart | Flickr

For the past seven years, Ashley HomeStores in Jacksonville, Florida, have served as leading partners in the annual Salvation Army Angel Tree initiative. The stores are consistently the top distributors of Angel Tree tags, helping thousands of community members brighten the spirits of local children throughout the holiday season. Ashley HomeStores have made the Angel Tree initiative so well-known in the Jacksonville community that eager shoppers often head to showrooms to pick out their angels before the Salvation Army even begins advertising the annual initiative.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore and the Salvation Army have provided anonymously donated holiday gifts for 35,000 children since the program’s inception, serving 4,300 kids—as well as 780 senior citizens—in 2016 alone. In addition to helping to distribute the holiday angels, Ashley employees also assist in storing the gifts and have even begun to volunteer at Salvation Army Toy Shop distribution centers.

  1. Dollar a Week

Ashley Furniture Industries provides an easy opportunity for employees to give back via its Dollar a Week program, which consolidates regular employee contributions to provide significant donations to national organizations. In December 2016, the program demonstrated the impact that even modest amounts of sustained charitable giving can have on worthwhile causes.

After collecting charitable donations from employees throughout Mississippi, Ashley Furniture donated $35,471.03 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital, a comprehensive pediatric health care center recognized by US News and World Report as one of nation’s best hospitals. Ashley Furniture has supported their life-saving work since launching the Dollar a Week Program in 2006. Since then, the company has donated over $120,000 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital.


What You Need to Know about the HFN Total Home OmniChannel Summit

OmniChannel Summit LogoAmong conferences worth attending in 2016 is the Home Furnishings News (HFN) Total Home OmniChannel Summit. The event will cover a range of topics related to omnichannel shopping and digital commerce. Learn what to expect from the event and how you can participate below.

When and where does the conference take place?

The HFN Total Home OmniChannel Summit kicks off on Tuesday, November 1st and ends on Thursday, November 3rd. The three-day event takes place at The Whitehall Hotel at 1700 Smith Street in Houston, Texas.

Who benefits from the event?

Professionals who want to improve their company’s omnichannel shopping experience should attend the conference. Specifically, professionals in the home furnishings industry and those who provide technical services to the industry will benefit. Likewise, research companies, financial firms, and retail strategy consultants will gain valuable information.

What will I learn?

A variety of speakers and presentations are on the agenda to engage participants in discussions about supply chain integration, online marketplaces, omnichannel enhancements, and specific technologies. There will also be a session dedicated to virtual and augmented reality. Led by experts from Marxent and Loft & roOomy, the session takes place on the second day and analyzes the impact of digital retailing on brick-and-mortar retailers. Attendees will learn how virtual and augmented reality can benefit or negatively affect physical retailers.

Other sessions to consider attending include “Furniture Ecommerce Benchmark Study” and “Creating and Measuring Impactful Home Digital Marketing Campaigns.” The former presents a research study conducted by Blueport Commerce to provide insights on how to compete with companies that focus solely on ecommerce. “Creating and Measuring Impactful Home Digital Marketing Campaigns” is intended to help retailers stay competitive in the industry. Presenters will shares tools and resources crucial for developing targeted digital marketing programs that grow a customer base.

Upon completion of the conference, attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how mobile apps engage consumers, how vendor direct and drop shipping programs work, and how online fulfillment expenditures can be reduced.

Who will give the keynote address?

Antony Karabus, an expert in increasing retail profitability, will give the keynote speech, following opening remarks on the first day. Chief executive officer of the firm HRC Advisory, he will address the challenges of digital commerce and competing against digital pure play enterprises like Amazon and Wayfair. He intends to provide actionable advice that can assist in developing and executing a successful digital home retailing plan.

Are there other speakers that may interest me?

Yes. Carl Prindle and Stacey Renfro are two of the event’s other featured speakers. Mr. Prindle is the president and CEO of Blueport Commerce, and Ms. Renfro heads the ecommerce division of Pier 1 Imports as senior vice president.

What networking opportunities are available?

On the first day, participants will get to meet other attendees at a networking cocktail reception in the Bayou Ballroom. The gathering starts at 5:30 p.m. and continues until 7 p.m. The following day, there will be two networking breaks in between the breakout sessions, as well as another cocktail reception. You may also utilize the lunch hour and the break at 4:30 p.m. to mingle and talk. On the final day, there are no specific networking events scheduled. However, breakfast would be a good time to chat and meet with new contacts.

How do I register?

Reserve your place at the summit by visiting omni.pbmconferences.com to register. If you are registering with a group, there is an option to add additional people to your registration.

What fees should I expect?

If you are attending as a retailer, a registration fee of $395 applies. As a supplier, manufacturer, or other industry professional, you must pay an $895 registration fee. In addition, you may invite one non-industry affiliated guest for a fee of $200. Your guest’s admission covers receptions only. Registration fees do not take into account hotel and transportation expenses. If you require a hotel, consider staying at the same location as the conference for ease. Until October 3rd, The Whitehall offers a special rate of $179 per night.

In terms of transportation, you may opt to use a taxi or shuttle service from the airport. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $47.50 for a one-way trip from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and $25 from the William P. Hobby Airport. Renting a car at either airport is another option. Set aside $29 each day you intend to use the hotel’s valet parking services.

What if I have questions?

For hotel inquiries, call The Whitehall to speak to a representative. The hotel phone number is (713) 739-8800. Questions about the summit can be directed to Heather Thompson, senior manager of conferences and events at Progressive Business Media. You may contact her at (336) 605-1061 or hthompson@pbmbrands.com.


6 of the Best Design Trends Expected to Boost Sales in 2016

Furniture store owners and interior designers look forward to High Point Market, the world’s largest furnishings industry trade show, which occurs each spring and fall. At High Point Market, industry tradespeople can explore more than 11.5 million square feet of space housing in excess of 2,000 exhibitors from all over the world. For those unable to attend, High Point Market publishes a style report with opinions from a handful of interior designers called “Style Spotters.” Its most recent edition shares insights on the following trends that are expected to drive sales in 2016:

1. Specialty Materials

lady's writing desk

Image courtesy Mark Skrobola | Flickr

Kati Curtis, a Leadership in Energy Efficient Design-Accredited Professional (LEED AP) featured in Architectural Digest, sees semi-precious stones, pressed silver, and vellum coming into vogue as ways to customize home furnishings. Items made with mother of pearl are also gaining popularity. These materials appeared often during the latest fall High Point Market in pieces such as beds and cocktail tables.

As for color palettes, Ms. Curtis believes that darker hues, like eggplant purples and navy blues, are the height of interior fashion. Metallic colors, like rose gold and German silver, both shades that appeal to consumers as alternatives to yellow gold, are also heavily in use.

2. Organic and Handmade

Style Spotter Jonathan Legate names organic and handmade furnishings as big attention-grabbers in 2016. Mr. Legate, an interior consultant and designer who receives acclaim for his timeless style and tailored spaces, says organics will appear in homes not only in the form of material, but also in craftsmanship. Furniture with planes rolls and shapes found in nature will gain more interest. Additionally, curving lines and molded corners will adorn many interiors. This movement toward organics pairs well with handmade pieces. Mr. Legate sees a growing consumer love of imperfect items that remind people of nature.

3. Artisanal

artisan furniture

Image courtesy GGFurniture | Flickr

Like Jonathan Legate, Leslie Hendrix Wood of Midland, Texas has noticed a rise in popularity of artisanal furnishings. Ms. Wood is the mind behind Hadley Court, an award-winning lifestyle and design blog that was named one of TripAdvisors’ Top 25 Home Design Blogs to Follow in 2014. She is best known for styling luxury interiors.

Spotting a market for more customized pieces that integrate stones and material found in nature, she expects an influx of requests for unique pieces from artisans containing horn, bone, marble, and rock crystals. Some examples of artisan-made products include the Shine by S.H.O. Ines Snake Cabinet and the Marge Carson Malibu Chairside Table.

4. Global Vintage

The principal interior designer of Pulp Design Studios, Beth Dotolo highlights global vintage as a recurring theme. People are designing personal spaces with a combination of tribal as well as 1960s and 1970s styles. The goal is to revive past styles to create eclectic and warm spaces. For example, the vintage-shaped CR Laine Elle Chair has captured interest with is cheetah-print fabric. The Surya Zam rug, made of hand-knotted bamboo silk and wool, contains fringe detailing and warm colors, such as burnt orange, saffron, and camel. Crafted in India, the rug offers a traditional shape, but a tribal feel. Other home furnishings and accessories supporting the global vintage trend include sconces made by Arteriors, the Teardrop Pillow by Emdee International, and Carcole’s two-door cabinet that serves as a home bar.

5. Wood

mahogany furniture

Image courtesy Can Pac Swire | Flickr

A frequent guest on HGTV shows, Lori Gilder designs custom home solutions, specializing in contemporary interiors and clean architectural lines. Having transformed homes and vacation properties throughout North America, she believes that woods of varying grains, stains, and hues will be a prominent design element in 2016. One examples of this handcrafted trend is Alfonso Marina’s Villiers Armoire, which utilizes a rich primavera (otherwise known as white mahogany) to create intricate details in each ring of circle and ray radiating from the focal point. The McGuire Company Desk, which was designed with a curved waterfall effect, is made of beautiful mahogany, while the Bernhardt Soho Luxe Console boasts deep caramel colors and integrated burl veneers.

6. Geometry

Patti Johnson of Patti Johnson Interiors, known for creating cohesive spaces with clean lines, identifies geometric patterns as an emerging trend. These designs create appeal and simplicity in a room and can work well on almost any type of furnishing, from lamp shades to hardware. As examples of this theme, Ms. Johnson points to the gold metal Octacia Pendant by Wildwood Lamps, a Theodore Alexander cocktail table with inverted pyramids, and the geometrically inspired Olivia Chair by Toby Fairley.