Summer Sales Heating Up for Outdoor Furniture

By Alan Wolf, YSN

With millions of American putting summer travel on hold amid ongoing health concerns, staycations are assuming a new luster for consumers and retailers alike.

Indeed, 82 percent of U.S. travelers have changed their travel plans for the next six months due to the threat of coronavirus, according to a recent Longwoods International tracking study.

But the travel industry’s pain is home furnishings’ gain. As home and builder expert and National Remodeling Foundation president Steve Kleber observed in a recent blog, “It’s clear that outdoor living is a trend that’s here to stay. While sheltering in place has been challenging, outdoor spaces offer a welcome breath of fresh air …. That translates to many homeowners focusing their efforts on tackling outdoor projects and reimagining their outdoor living spaces.”

That also translates into increased sales for outdoor furniture dealers. Brad Schweig, Operations VP at Sunnyland Outdoor Living in Dallas, one of the country’s largest outdoor furniture specialty retailers, told YSN that once the “new normal” becomes more normalized, “People will want to spend more time at home and will want to turn their backyard into their own mini vacation resort. It’s the one place their family can go outdoors without masks or social distancing.”

Schweig, a member of the Home Furnishings Association (HFA), a BrandSource partner, noted that were it not for March and April, when Sunnyland was forced to close under Texas’s lockdown mandate, the company would be heading for an annual sales record. “Take those two months out of the equation and we’d be on track for a phenomenal year,” he said in an HFA blog post.

“It’s nice that we’ve had the inventory to meet the demand,” added Schweig. “We’ve been busy every weekend for two or three weeks now — weekdays, too.”

Meghan Maydew, owner of HFA member Fruehauf’s Patio in Westminster, Colo., similarly reported strong customer demand since reopening in May. “They’re telling us if they’re not going anywhere this summer, they might as well be comfortable at home outdoors,” she told HFA columnist Robert Bell. “Over and over again we’re hearing that. I think a lot of customers want to make the most of a bad situation. We’re happy to help them feel a little better.”

Not to be outdone, mega-retailers are riding the outdoor wave as well. As Bed Bath & Beyond’s Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Joe Hartsig told CNBC, “Customers want to get outside and embrace the outdoor spaces they have in every way possible” and are snapping up outdoor seating, rugs, pillows and cushions, lighting, grilling tools and gardening items. “This is consistent with customer behavior we’re hearing throughout the industry,” he said.

On the vendor side, Doug Rassi, CEO and founder of outdoor furniture maker Polywood, is also reaping the benefits of a stay-at-home summer. “One of the most unexpected aspects of this unprecedented season is that demand for our products has expanded dramatically,” he told FurnitureToday, and market research confirms the anecdotal accounts. The publication cited a report by Global Industry Analysts projecting 4.4 percent growth for the outdoor furniture category this season, to a market size of $13.3 billion, as consumers become resigned to spending their summer vacations at home.

Seth Weisblatt, BrandSource’s Director of Merchandising/Home Furnishings, said members searching for backyard fare need look no further than the Backroom, where Armen Living is showcasing its contemporary collection of outdoor sofa, sectional, dining and bar sets.

In addition, YSN contributor Retailworks is offering downloadable PDF summer graphics display kits for $25 that declare your showroom a source for stay-at-home summertime fun.

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.