Your numbers up and other lessons for good math

Your numbers up and other lessons for good math

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 from Floor Covering Weekly

Last February, Forbes ran an article about Floor and Décor. The author quoted Statista, a private research company, as to the size of our industry. The Statista report is part of its Consumer Market Outlook, which tracts 350 industries. Sadly, the author used the industry at manufacturing sell to compute market share at retail. That’s apples and kumquats. I wrote the author and the numbers were redone, apples to apples.

Far too often, those that should know better create industry outlooks that would or should scare the reader. Oh, no, Home Depot and Lowe’s have 40 percent of our industry sales. Or, our buying group has 20 percent of market share. All are based on bad math or just willful ignorance. Trouble is, if retailers make decisions about their future based on crazy numbers they will make very serious mistakes.

Basically our industry is $68+ billion. Of that, $22 billion is installation or labor. Since these numbers are adjusted every five years to Census of Retail and Census of Construction, there is no more than 5 percent error in the numbers. We can quibble about whether it is really $66.4 billion or some other number close but that is the size.

What about Home Depot and Lowe’s? Total flooring sales, including installation is $11 billion or 17.5 percent market share. (For context, when flooring retailers sold just carpet and vinyl, Sears, Ward, Penney and all department stores had about a 38 percent market share.) Organic growth (same store sales — year to year, no new stores figured in) for both Home Depot and Lowes has been equal to or slightly better than industry growth. And if they didn’t use free labor for carpet sales their market share of that product category would be pitiful.

Internet sales are around 2.5 percent of entire industry sales. Not even $2 billion. Most comes from rugs, laminate, wood and LVT. Yes, the customer goes online to learn lots of things but precious few actually buy online. That’s not what they tell your salespeople but that is the reality.

Perhaps the most difficult category to get at the most accurate sales estimate is rugs. The conventional wisdom is that as hard surface increases, as it has for last 10 years, rug sales should follow suit. The units have increased nicely but we see the average price sinking. It’s almost a zero-sum game — units are up and price per square foot is down. Today rugs are about 9 percent of all flooring product sales and with really great photography Internet rug merchants are generating good sales.

Jonathan Trivers, a regular contributor to Floor Covering Weekly, is also the author of the marketWise section of FCW’s Statistical Report. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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