The last time D&WC tried to quantify the U.S. shutter market the timing couldn’t have been worse. We surveyed our readers in November 2001 when the shock and dismay from the events of September 11 were still too new and too painful. When we reported our findings, in April 2002, the business climate was bad and not improving (see “Too Much to Expect,” D&WC, April 2002, page 46).
It was little wonder, then, that 80 percent of the readers who answered that
survey said consumer interest in shutters was “Average” or “Low.” Consumer
interest couldn’t have been better than average for any product, at any
price in those days. “Have no fear,” we wrote, “as more signs
of recovery crop up, we are likely to see consumer interest in shutters rebound.” And
they have rebounded. In our most current reader survey on shutters (see
54) nearly 80 percent of those who responded described consumer interest in shutters
as “High.” What’s more, less than eight percent described it
as “Low,” the lowest negative response we’ve ever recorded.
Though shutters probably make up less than 15 percent of the total window coverings
market, it is safe to say that they are a growing segment with high interest
among end-users, lots of options and choices over a wide price range and a high-margin
product for dealers (38 percent of our respondents said between 41 and 60 percent
of their custom shutter retail sales price is profit). At least one shutter supplier
we tapped for comments expected the market to grow 15 percent per year (see
That’s the good news. A market segment this hot is something like a two-edged
sword. Cutting the other way is increased competition as more dealers get into
the market (15 percent of our respondents said they derived 81 to 100 percent
of their total sales volume from shutters), pressure at the retail level to lower
prices (nearly 40 percent said they now promote published sales on shutters “Frequently”)
and higher interest by overseas suppliers to bring products ashore.
In last year’s shutter special (D&WC, November
2002, page 51) we advised: “If
the last five years was an exciting time to be in the custom shutter market,
just wait until the next five years.” Perhaps we were too far-sighted.
That time could be now.