Here today, gone tomorrow – fast fashion for furnishings
With the May bank holiday traditionally a key time for decorating and DIY, latest research from MINTEL finds Brits now up-dating their home decor as often as they up-date their wardrobes. Fast fashion is moving into the housewares market as today just one in four (25%) British adults believe it is worth paying more for housewares that last. What is more, fashion beats functionality, with fewer than one in five (18%) buying kitchen and housewares items for function rather than style.
"It is clear that the British are now taking a more 'throw-away' approach to decorating their homes. Indeed, housewares are replaced not because they are old or worn, but simply to get a new look. This lifestyle has been made possible by falling prices in the housewares market, with Britain now enjoying more choice and better value for money than ever before. This is very much a trend from the clothing fashion world, where people are buying high fashion items at rock bottom prices, so that they can afford to up-date their wardrobes as often as they desire. This trend is epitomised by the fact that many of the most dynamic fast fashion clothing stores, are now entering the housewares market," comments Richard Caines, senior retail analyst at MINTEL.
Home Sweet Home
The falling number of marriages has meant that weddings are no longer the key occasion for the housewares market that they once were. The negative impact this could have had on the industry has been lessened by the fact that many people are now prepared to change their decor more regularly for a fresh, new look. Taking interior design one step further, some consumers are now buying housewares to give just a meal at home a particular theme or style. Indeed, MINTEL's research has found that as many as one in four (24%) have special tableware for Christmas dining and a substantial one in five (19%) use different china and glasses for different occasions. When it comes to al fresco dining as many as 14% say that they have specific tableware for the garden. All this has clearly boosted demand, particularly at the cheaper end of the market.
"There would seem to be a general cocooning effect where consumers are looking to enhance their homes and make them more comfortable places to relax and entertain. This trend has generated greater demand for soft furnishings, mood lighting and more accessories. What is more, the garden is now becoming an extra room in the house, which has encouraged more people to eat and entertain outside. This has helped open up a market for ‘summer living’, which includes all kinds of tableware, picnic goods, lighting and candles suitable for garden use," comments Richard Caines.
A ?10 billion market
MINTEL's consumer research shows that Argos comes out as the most popular shop for buying housewares, with almost two in five (38%) British adults having shopped there in the last 12 months. This means that Argos comes some way ahead of the second favourite, IKEA (25%). Where department stores are concerned, Debenhams comes out on top, with some 18% of adults having bought housewares from here in the past year. The popularity of grocery retailers in this sector is shown by the fact that almost one in four (23%) say that they would be happy to buy housewares from a supermarket. Indeed, more people have been to Tesco (17%) and Asda (16%) to buy housewares than to John Lewis (14%), BHS (10%) and Habitat (4%). Collectively the DIY superstores attract some one in five adults (19%).
Consumer spending on housewares - including household textiles and utensils - grew by 12% between 2000 and 2004 to almost ?10 billion. MINTEL predicts that consumer expenditure in this market will rise by a further 11% over the 2004-09 period, bringing the market to just over ?11 billion by 2009.
"The housewares sector has been benefiting from a consumer spending boom encouraged by more style and design and falling prices. Prices of many goods are projected to continue to fall and this will make housewares even more accessible to more consumers. But the current retail climate is more challenging and we can expect slower rates of growth in the next five years," comments Richard Caines.
In addition to textiles and utensils, MINTEL estimates that sales of lighting have increased by some 26% between 2000 and 2004 to be worth some ?575 million.
"The domestic lighting market has grown strongly, again helped by the trend for redecorating as well as the growing wealth of consumers. Greater design awareness and appreciation of the role of good lighting in changing the mood of a room have helped to grow sales," comments Richard Caines.?
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