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Runner Sales Take Off, Rug Execs Explore the Trend

Area rug runners are gaining ground as stocked sizes, style choices, custom options and distribution expand.

Carol Tisch, Lisa Vincenti
Feizy Cecily rug in long hallway
For Feizy, offering runners in wider and longer sizes, pays dividends. Cecily runner pictured.

SPECIAL REPORT -- A reliably consistent seller for many area rug makers, runners are becoming an increasingly popular choice as e-commerce sales and sizing options expand, and as social media attention boosts the category's fashion profile.

In fact, area rug sales surged online while most brick and mortar stores were shuttered for months during the initial months of the coronavirus crisis. And runners represent an important part of the e-commerce business that is carrying rug companies through this difficult economic period.

In this exclusive two-part RugNews.com report, we deep dive into the runner business from the perspective of rug execs at Couristan, Dynamic Rugs, Feizy, Jaipur Living, Kalaty, Kaleen, Loloi, LR Resources, Mohawk Home, Momeni, Oriental Weavers, Surya, Tayse and Trans-Ocean. In Part 1 of this special 2020 series, we cover the current market size, its potential for growth an
d how some rug manufacturers are fine-tuning their offerings to take advantage of the popularity of runners. Stay tuned for more.

image of orange runner with traditional motif 
Surya introduces Antiquity, a runners-only collection in printed chenille polyester.

Surya, for example, is boldly capitalizing on the growth of the category by introducing collections that are comprised exclusively of runners. According to Satya Tiwari, the move was precipitated by consumers using runners more frequently in hallways, kitchens, the bedroom and outdoors. "Social media is helping to drive this, as influencers feature content that shows the beauty and versatility that a runner can add. All of this has resulted in a considerable upswing in our sales. We have even recently launched a few collections like the chenille polyester printed Antiquity assortment, inspired by one-of-a-kind antique rugs, that consists exclusively of runners to take advantage of their increased popularity."


Area rug runners currently represent around 10 percent of their sales, with the potential to increase to 15 percent given the categories' current popularity among consumers.

image of classic floral rug runner
The Adaline runner from Couristan's popular Easton collection.

"Presently runners are about 10 percent of Couristan's business. They have always been an impactful selling piece," said Larry Mahurter, VP of marketing and advertising at Couristan. "Because it's an add-on on the e-commerce side, we see it increasing and anticipate that total runner sales could grow to 15 percent."

The same holds true at Mohawk Home, according to Bart Hill, senior vice president Mohawk Home. "Runners from a unit standpoint have always been a component at retail in that 10 -12 percent range of sales, but we are seeing an increase in runners as we offer more products online. We think we can drive it up to 15-20 percent just by offering additional sizes online."

Hill noted that at brick and mortar retailers, the shelf has always determined the size of both the runners and the rugs they stock, and that has historically limited the runner category. "Brick and mortars are only going to have a one size runner, a 2x6. But online we can offer three to four runner sizes."


image of striped area rug runner
The Mayan Sunset runner in a popular Sierra colorway is a best-seller from Mohawk Home

Says Hill, "Runners have emerged as a very good selling component of the online space -- primarily because the aisle is endless. We can offer more links, more sizes, more functional pieces; we can offer a five-foot runner, as well as a 10-foot one. So we are seeing a tick up in importance, as we move this rug business forward toward that digital online component."

In fact, Couristan's Mahurter says that some e-commerce accounts are demanding that runner images be included as part of a style family's online listing. "More and more e-commerce accounts are asking for runner shots. They have projections that their viewers are looking at four or five perspective shots in order to make a sale. Runners have and always will be one of those perspective shots.

"In fact, we have some e-commerce accounts that won't allow us to post products to their sites without a runner shots," Mahurter said, noting that runners have always been a program size at Couristan. "It's considered an add-on sale to the standard size rug for e-commerce accounts."


image of long traditional runner in hallway
Feizy's Anoosha rug runner offers an ultra-long welcome.

Executives at Dallas-based Feizy Rugs report that its runner business also remains a healthy piece of revenues. "While the popularity of runners has been consistent, we now are seeing the need for longer/wider runners for spaces," says Justin Yeck, who heads up the company's Omni channel sales, marketing and product development efforts. "Before, so many runners were standard sizes and now our clients cannot get enough of the wider and longer sizes. Thankfully we not only stock runners in various sizes but we also have a great selection of one-of-a-kind runners.

"As designers and consumers have increasingly moved to hard surfaces, clients want warmth in their spaces and a runner is the easiest way to add warmth to the continued trend of wood and tile in the home," Yeck said.


image of classic design rug runner in kitchen
Momeni performance rug runners, shown Anatolia, enjoy popularity in high traffic areas of the home.

Innovations in area rug constructions and improvements in the look and feel of performance rugs have contributed to the category's growth.

"Runners are a significant part of our business and have always been popular for us," said Reza Momeni, noting, "We are now starting to see the rise of innovative constructions across all size categories. Runners in particular present a unique opportunity due to the nature of their being placed in high traffic areas."

"The innovation of materials and design in the industry as a whole will continue to drive runners, a segment which presents a unique challenge for maintenance and sustainability," Momeni continued. "We will continue to see innovation with washable runners, like our Erin Gates' River and Easton collections; printed-qualities that replicate antique rugs, and runners that feature a large variety of construction and designs."


catalog image of showcased rug assortment
Oriental Weavers promotes coordinating runners with collections featured in its newly released catalog.

As proof of the growing importance of this product segment, several area rug manufacturers have begun to place more emphasis on runners -- not only in their marketing material but also in their new product introductions.

At Oriental Weavers -- where runners represent a fairly steady business -- Andy Brumlow, vice president of product development, told RugNews.com he's seeing some good growth in indoor-outdoor runners, a segment which OW dominates.

To that point, the company premiered its 2020 catalog this summer with two brand new sections: one devoted to indoor-outdoor rugs and another focused exclusively on the company's round and runner assortments. "The growth of online sales has helped grow the runner category, because most retail stores don't stock runners, and we can now present them on e-commerce sites," Brumlow continued.

"Probably the biggest drivers of runner sales are the move to hard surface floors in the home and the ability to shop and view online. When hardwood floors started taking over carpet in the home, runners offered a decorative look, a softer step and reduced noise," Brumlow said.

image of area rug and matching runner
Dynamic Rugs' catalog showcases runners with its most popular collections, including the best-selling Ancient Garden.

Dynamic Rugs has also responded to continued success, and remains bullish on the category. "We offer more than 100 runners in various widths, and they come in matching area rugs in a variety of sizes and large selection of styles," explained Matthew Rouhanian, Dynamic Rugs founder. "We continue to add stocked runners to our most popular collections. Our runner sales have always been good and they've been pretty consistent as well."

But, Rouhanian cautions, not every collection lends itself to runners. "There are several factors we consider when deciding which collections will have runner options, including analyzing sales before deciding whether to add runners. We also take into account the construction, quality, and materials of the rug, and finally, it’s important to consider the design work. While some designs may look great as area rugs, when you cut them down to scale for a runner, it does not always necessarily look as nice given the different proportions."

image of medallion design rug runner
The Medallion collection runner from LR Resources offers classic looks in contemporary palettes.

"E-commerce has boosted runner sales considerably," concludes Mike Thompson, VP sales direct division/general manager of LR Resources. "Runners have always been popular in hallways and for stairs. But today, more people are using them as space definition -- the same way they use small rounds and 3x5s."They are a less expensive splash of color than traditional area rugs and they quiet heavily traveled walkways," Thompson added.
trans-ocean ad spot hri rugs