As a new category added to the 2003 consumer survey, window coverings, blinds, curtains, and other window treatments are an essential part of most home remodeling projects, big or small. Some 37 percent of households made a purchase of window coverings in the past year. With consumers avidly tuning into such do-it-yourself decorating shows as The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces and While You Were Out, they are learning all about the easy, quick, and cost-effective decorating possibilities available through window treatments.
With retail sales of fabric window treatments tracked in the textiles category, the sales of durable window coverings, including blinds, rods, and other window hardware, totaled $5.6 billion in 2002, up 2.6 percent over sales in 2000, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Netherlands-based Hunter Douglas is a worldwide leader in the window covering business. With a wide selection of product offerings from wood blinds, shades, even powered models, Hunter Douglas targets the more upscale shoppers with distribution through designers and specialty outlets, as well as national retailers like The Home Depot, Fortunoffs, and JCPenney.
When thinking about covering their windows, shoppers turn primarily to three types of stores: discount department stores (used by 36 percent of shoppers in 2003), traditional department stores (34 percent), and home improvement and hardware stores (25 percent). Specialty retail is also focusing on the window treatment business. Canadian-based Blinds to Go is a chain of 100 superstores devoted exclusively to blinds and other window treatments. Country Curtains, headquartered in Stock-bridge, Massachesetts, offers their exclusive line of down-home designs through 25 stores, a direct mail catalog, and the Internet.
Because many window treatments must be custom made, mail order and Internet providers are finding new avenues to reach consumers. Cataloger and Internet provider Smith+Noble specializes in selling its own line of custom window blinds, shutters, shades, and panels. Blindsexpress.com offers name brands including Hunter Douglas, Levolor, and Kirsch at discount prices. It also teams with NBI Inc. to provide custom blind installation virtually anywhere in the country, thus giving shoppers confidence to buy products from an Internet supplier that often require expert installation.
% CHG '00-'02
Total Personal Consumption in millions
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Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Window coverings are an important category within home products and one to which many consumers buying new homes or involved in redecorating pay attention. Describing the role of window coverings, a consumer said: "It is the way these make you feel. They finish the room, and set the mood of the home. It's not a brand, it's a look. It makes the house a home. It makes it your own."
The quality of window coverings is largely signaled by touch and feel for fabrics and by the brand name for window hardware. In a recent focus group, a consumer said: "I just bought Hunter Douglas silhouettes. They were $2,000 per window. I've seen Hunter Douglas advertised and a lot of my friends have them. Hunter Douglas is very well known." A key pleasure driver for consumers in this category is the opportunity it gives them to express themselves and their creativity, and to make the home unique by how they select and style the window coverings. For one consumer, window coverings are a key factor in achieving a luxurious look and feel to her home: "The fabrics are luxury to me, as is the color. It doesn't matter where you get it or how much you pay as long as it reflects your solution. So you can have luxury if you didn't spend a lot of money. I try not to put a price on luxury. It's what it does for you as a person."
Just less than 40 percent (37 percent) of U.S. households bought window coverings in the past year. A gender-neutral category, it is often one where couples make a joint purchase. While purchase incidence peaks among buyers aged 18 to 24, consumers through age 54 are fairly active in this category; however, purchase incidence drops among those over age 55. Households in all income ranges have a need for window coverings and so purchase incidence cuts across all incomes. The presence of children in the home and households with three or more members are more likely to buy window coverings than others.
This is a gender-neutral category representing a joint purchase decision.
All incomes purchase evenly.
Younger households aged 18 to 24 buy more, and consumers through age 54 are still active.
Larger households and those with children buy more.