Face to Face: Home Depot vs. Lowe's - Area Rugs
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, July 25, 2013
MIAMI - It has been two years since HTT reviewed the area rug offerings at two major home center chains - Home Depot and Lowe's -that are just 10 bocks apart in Miami's suburban West Kendall neighborhood, and over that period some noticeable changes have occurred at both stores.
To put the area rug business overall in perspective, it is important to note that home centers have long been the fourth biggest distribution channel for rugs, regardless of their fluctuating sales volumes in recent years. In 2012, home centers collectively accounted for $332 million of total category sales across all channels. That represented a 2.2% decline from 2011, when home centers held a $340 million slice of the business. By comparison, in 2010 they accounted for $330 million in rug sales.
At Home Depot, the no-frills space allocated to area rugs remains in the middle of the store within the hard-flooring department and measuring about 30 to 35 feet long. Also still on site are the two bulky 13-arm "special order" hangers and two much-smaller "in-stock" threearm hangers, with cumbersome and not-easily-accessible racks and shelves for smaller-size in stock rugs behind their two display hanger arms.
What is different is the count of "special order" rug options, which has grown by 24% to 67 from 54 two years ago. A deeper look reveals a clear shift in vendor sources and an up tick in pricing.
In summer 2011, Home Depot's "special order" rug program comprised 54 rug styles from 12 different vendors. Of that mix, Mohawk occupied the largest share - 12 styles, followed by Shaw, which had nine rugs. Others with rug styles placed in this program, listed here alphabetically, included: Balta U.S. (six), Feizy (six), Home Dynamix (four), Momeni (two), Natco Home (two), Nourison (five) and Orian (five).
Three companies each had only one rug style in Home Depot's "special order" line - Bacova, Direct Home Textiles Group, and Trade Am.
Today, none of these remain part of this mix - neither in the "special order" nor in the regular in-stock offering.
Home Depot's current "special order" program is dominated by Orian rugs, which has 11 rugs placed, followed by newcomer Artistic Weavers with nine and Balta U.S. with seven. Mohawk Home's share is down by half to six rugs. Shaw, too, is down considerably in count, to three from nine rugs two years ago.
There are several other newcomers to the mix, including Couristan with three, Lanart Rug Inc. with four, and Safavieh with six. By the same token, there are also several other rug companies no longer included in the mix, including Feizy, Momeni and Natco.
With new companies and new styles of rugs come new and higher pricing. Whereas Home Depot's "special order" rugs ranged from about $100 to $350 two years ago, today they span from about $100 to as high at $999 for a synthetic room-size from Couristan.
On the in-stock front, little change has taken place since 2011, with a grouping of 12 rugs by Mohawk Home and Shaw Living.
In the previous report, Mohawk owned eight slots while Shaw had four rugs. This year, the collection still stands at 12 rugs, but Mohawk has seven, and Shaw has three. The other two rugs were not labeled with a manufacturer's name or other product information.
While the merchandise presentation at Home Depot is the same as the past, Lowe's has made some noticeable changes to its area rug display.
The store's area rug section remains contained on one side of an about 40-foot long aisle. However, today's display is cleaner and more streamlined - not just in appearance but in sku count and vendor roster.
There are now 15 racks hung the length of the aisle, neatly spaced out and displaying in 8- by-10-ish size the store's in-stock offerings, each offered in one to three sizes, with larger size options available for order from the product labels.
While there used to be 43 rugs divvied among nine suppliers, today that number is down 21% to 34 rugs from eight vendors.
Newcomers include Eco Rug and Home Dynamix. One major supplier, Natco, was no longer included in the mix when HTT visited the store.
Pricing is another area that has seen change. In 2011 the span ranged from about $65 to $200; the current line starts in the $20s but hits a $427 high for a synthetic room-size rug from Balta U.S.
At Lowe’s, the area rug aisle has been updated and simplified, with 15 racks hung along the section.
Home Depot’s area rug section looks much the same as it has in the past, with two 13-arm racks for “special order” and two 3-arm racks to display in-stock products.
Home Depot has over the past two years dramatically expanded its “special order” assortment with new vendors, new styles in more varied constructions, and new all-time high price points ($999).
Lowe’s has shrunken its merchandise mix by 21%, giving more importance to a cleaner, more concise presentation of rugs that can retail for less than $450.