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Rugs Continue to Gain Ground at Flooring Retailers

Carpet and area rug sales at FCA Network stores account for a major portion of revenues with sales still going strong in 2021.

RugNews.com Editors
Buyers  looking at rug samples
Jason Hair, vice president of Phenix Flooring, walks FCA Network retailers through the latest lineup.

SARASOTA, Fla. – The FCA Network, comprised of flooring retailers primarily in the Midwest and mountain West states, held its annual convention and at the event they remained bullish on carpet and rugs, despite the overwhelming trend elsewhere favoring a hard surface assortment.

“In the Midwest [soft surfaces] are still king,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network, based in Shorewood, Illinois. “Within our group it’s still a 50-50 percentage in some stores, 60-40 [soft surface] in others. It’s nice to see a resurgence in the category.”

Industry numbers reported to the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) showed residential carpet up 13.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and up 18 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Of course, much of that business today is broadloom turned into rugs either by the manufacturer or retailer.

Ann McDermott, vice president of national accounts for Shaw, discusses the Signature Essentials collection with FCA Network retailers.

At the FCA Network convention, held at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, carpet mills including Shaw, Mohawk and Phenix Flooring showcased new offerings that can be fabricated into rugs. “Every product Phenix makes can go into rugs,” said Jason Hair, vice president of sales for Phenix. “In a market where a huge part of the carpet business is rugs, we’re trying to get a piece of that where it makes sense.”

Over the past couple years, as hard surface has taken a larger share of the floor, consumers have recognized the need to reduce noise and add a comfortable, warm surface over their hard floors. That trend is driving area rug sales. Additionally, FCA Network dealers said they have noticed that the average broadloom cut size has become smaller. For example, not long ago, the average carpet cut would account for a full room installation, and now incoming orders are often under 10 feet.

“We’ve been successful fabricating rugs from broadloom even before we had an official program,” said Carlton Billingsley, co-owner of Floors and More, Benton, Arkansas “Many consumers are not aware that you can even do this. It is our job as retailers to educate then. When you do bring this up, the light bulb goes off in the consumer’s head. It’s a growing part of our business because so much hard surface is being consumed.”

At West Bay Floor Source in Westlake, Ohio, interest in rugs has spiked primarily because of its success in hard surfaces. West Bay does a significant business fabricating rugs from broadloom, as well as selling area rugs through Karastan. It added the Karastan rug kiosk eight months ago. “It was a slow start for us, but our rug sales have really picked up,” said Sara Livensparger, manager at West Bay. “When people buy hard surfaces, we have had success adding the rug sale. They like the option of being able to customize their space.”

Thanks in part to the resurgence of carpet and rugs, the FCA Network had its best year ever in 2020, up 10 percent in revenue over 2019, which was also a strong year for the group. Furthermore, revenue is trending higher in 2021 as well.

Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network, attends the retail group’s annual convention in Sarasota, reports that soft surfaces continue to boom in the Midwest.
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