The following is a summation of some of BTA's pertinent findings using the most recently available data along with its expectations for the remainder of this year and projections ahead.
• Disposal Income. Per capita disposable income was $22,925 (in current U.S. dollars) in 1998, up by 4.3 percent from 1997. Consumers' disposable incomes are directly related to the health of the U.S. economy. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 4.9 percent in 1998, after increasing by 5.7 percent in 1997 (current U.S. dollars).
The U.S. economy should continue to thrive through 2000, despite economic troubles in Asia. As a result, per capita disposable income is expected to reach $25,022 in 2000.
• Population Trends. U.S. consumers aged 45 to 54 will account for the largest share of the population by 2006. This group of consumers has great buying power. Typically, they purchase high-quality, high-priced window coverings. It is important to please this generation of consumers because of its potential to drive the U.S. market for window coverings over the next several years.
Motorized blinds and shades are very popular among the 55- to 64-year-old age group. These people demand easy-to-use products. Also, it is likely that many of these consumers have been in the same home for a long period of time, prompting the need for remodeling and redecorating. Many in this group purchase retirement homes, either as their primary residences or as vacation retreats. These residences require window coverings as well.
• Housing Market. This year there will be 103.2 million households in the United States. This figure is expected to rise to 108.8 million in 2005 and 114.8 million in 2010. In 1998, the 25- to 44-year-old age group accounted for 30.9 percent of the total U.S. population, or 83.3 million people. These consumers are generally first-time home buyers. If a window coverings company can meet the decorating needs of these people, it will find itself in the enviable position of possibly gaining the lifelong loyalty of a relatively young (and very large) customer base.
• Remodeling and Redecorating. The number of consumers aged 35 to 44 totaled 44.5 million in 1998. A rising number of these consumers are working at home. This creates demand for a more pleasurable home environment. Many of these consumers are remodeling and redecorating due to the increasing number of hours they are spending at home.
BTA finds that many of the factors influencing the demand for window coverings have regional variances across the United States.
As of 1995, 35 percent of U.S. housing units in existence were situated in the southern United States. This could result in a high frequency of window coverings purchases, if not for the fact that the median family income in the South was lower than in any other region. The exact opposite situation exists in the Northeast.
The Northeast accounted for 19.7 percent of total U.S. housing units in 1995, but consumers in this region had the highest level of median family income. Another positive factor in the Northeast is the median age of housing units, which was 42 years as of 1995. As a result, residents in this region are most likely to engage in some type of remodeling or redecorating activities in the future.
In the Midwest, the median family income in 1995 was $1,046 above the national median. In addition, this region accounted for 24.2 percent of total U.S. housing units in existence. Both figures are looked upon as being positive factors affecting demand for window coverings.
In the western region of the United States, the median family income was well above the national level. However, the number of housing units in the West is just above that of the Northeast, which accounted for the smallest percentage of U.S. housing units in 1995.
Business Trend Analysts, Inc. is based in Commack, NY. For information on obtaining "The U.S. Market for Window Coverings," published in September 1999, contact BTA at 2171 Jericho Turnpike, Commack, NY 11725-2900; (631) 462-5454; fax: (631) 462-1842; www.businesstrend analysts.com.