One of the strongest and fastest growing product segments for the past several years, shutters still are highly sought by homeowners everywhere. But have current trends, both economic/housing and decorating, started to move away from shutters?
Draperies & Window Coverings asked market segment leaders if the current housing situation favors shutter sales, and if demand is moving away to other product categories.
Here are their responses:
NOW MORE THAN EVER
Vice President and General Manager
Hunter Douglas Custom Shutter Division
The heated housing market has slowed, which means that potential homeowners are looking for value now more than ever. They’re in it for the long haul, rather than a quick turnaround. Shutters are and will continue to be a sound investment for any consumers shopping for window coverings. They add to the intrinsic value of a home and provide architectural detail in addition to boasting high R-values and excellent UV protection.
Now more than ever, consumers expect their shutter purchase to be backed by a dependable brand and warranty. It is therefore imperative that you select a shutter manufacturer with a range of quality products and an established brand presence and reputation that consumers know and trust. Advertising and promoting that brand establish and sustain consumer preferences for both the brand and you as the retailer.
As the shutter market continues to be very fragmented with many small manufacturers, it is difficult to estimate its total size. At Hunter Douglas, we have seen solid sales growth from our recently expanded collection, which offers a cohesive range of shutter solutions — NewStyle® hybrid shutters for those seeking a more affordable alternative to the traditional wood shutter, Palm Beach™ polysatin shutters for use in even the most humid or wet areas and Heritance® hardwood shutters for the warmth of wood with innovations that make them last a lifetime. New Bridgeway™ Specialty Shapes also cover a variety of specialty shaped windows.
The bottom line: As an industry professional, you should be aware of the growing demand for shutters and capitalize on this trend by strengthening your partnership with your manufacturer.
HIGHEST SALES PERCENTAGE THEN EVER
US Polymers Inc.
The housing market slowdown, has impacted most window coverings sales, but in particular the more expensive higher end window covering products. To stay ahead of the slow down, dealers need to maximize every sales opportunity. How can they do this? Increase closing ratios on the sales calls that they do get and bring down their selling prices and costs on higher end products to get the most gross profit dollars from any given job.
ShutterSmart not only has enhanced all our dealer selling tools this year with brand new sampling, catalogs, consumer videos and a consumer Web site, but we also have started bringing down the cost of handling shutters for our dealers with new features like bullet catches and a fast install program that make installation faster and easier allowing dealers to handle more installs in less time and make more money. ShutterSmart has also introduced a number of strong promotions to help consumers step up to shutters from less expensive alternatives like blinds.
Shutters are at the highest percentage of overall window covering sales then they have ever been in the past. Softer window coverings have certainly been growing, but not at the expense of shutters. Shutters are a timeless window covering that will never go out of style.
There is no question that the real estate slowdown will affect the broad economy and impact the window coverings industry. However, we anticipate that remodeling activity will continue at a steady rate. Due to their demonstrated power to appreciate home value and enhance décor, shutters will endure as a leading choice for homeowners who are remodeling. Savvy dealers will need to concentrate on remodeling projects and new homeowners in high-end markets in order to increase profits.
There is no evidence that the market is shifting away from shutters, which continue to be a strong category. Cellular shades, Roman shades and roller shades, along with shutters, continue to be the growth categories in window coverings.