Floored By Retail Trends

One of the great “forgotten” client sectors in the hardware market is commercial property.

There has been so much attention paid to domestic DIY trends and residential renovation fashions that many hardware retailers have neglected commercial customers.

A major element of commercial retail design relates to flooring, and a new US report* reveals some interesting trends that will inevitably affect the Australian market over coming years.

It’s an important topic because many of the flooring materials used in commercial renovation and construction projects are sourced from hardware outlets.

The report, published by Display & Design Ideas magazine in June this year, indicates that the most popular flooring material for retail premises is vinyl/resilient flooring (57%), followed by wall-to-wall carpeting (46%), ceramic tiles (also 46%), concrete (29%), wood (26%) and modular carpet systems (22%).

Wood laminate attracted only 13% of respondents’ votes, a fair way behind natural stone (19%).

Most respondents (43%) said their budget for commercial retail flooring projects was under US$500,000, but it is worth noting that 20% said they were prepared to spend more than $2 million to make sure their flooring was just right.

The major influences affecting buying decisions, according to the report, are cost (82%), maintenance (73%) and aesthetics (69%). Only 58% of respondents rated the life expectancy of the material as a major factor, suggesting that many store retailers envisage ongoing flooring upgrades.

Satisfaction ratings with different flooring materials also varied significantly. Out of 21 listed materials ceramic tiles received the highest level of satisfaction, followed by natural stone, Terrazzo, safety/entrance flooring and concrete. Wood laminate finished 18th in the satisfaction ratings, while the least satisfactory flooring material was leather! It seems our passion for installing wood laminate products in the home does not extend to commercial applications.

The main future trend identified in the survey was an increasingly “green” outlook. “This movement towards green flooring implies a marked difference from what retailers and retail design firms focused on in the past…” the report states.

The overall thrust of the survey underlines the perpetual attractiveness of ceramic tiles in retail settings, and hardware store owners – particularly those with large commercial trade clients – should also anticipate a rising interest in environmentally friendly flooring products. These products might include flooring materials made from recycled woods, plastics and rubbers.

* “Flooring Industry Survey 2004”, Display & Design Ideas, June 2004. See www.ddimagazine.com

By John Power