HOM Furniture expects strong demand for outdoor in 2022

HOM Furniture has been in the outdoor category for over 20 years and made the addition because their large showrooms have enough space to dedicate sections to the category in key selling months— March-September.

While they once sold spas and grills, Executive Director of Merchandising Kyle Johansen said they left those product categories behind because spas needed special delivery trucks, and the grill business—typically a low margin category—involves a lot of service and parts needs that are not profitable.

Kyle Johansen

The largest change came in 2009 when HOM acquired Seasonal Concepts, a specialty outdoor retailer, and expanded its price points, getting more into specialty items and custom orders.

“Acquiring Seasonal Concepts allowed us to expand our price points beyond what normal furniture stores sell even today,” Johansen says. “ It also cleaned a lot of distribution issues with the higher-end vendors that we targeted to add to our assortment.

Today, outdoor makes up a small portion of HOM’s overall sales—somewhere under 5%—but Johansen says it’s an important category for adding revenue for the company. 

The product is merchandised in stylized vignettes to show the products in a lifestyle setting, and brands include Tropitone, Homecrest, Classic Cushion, Treasure Garden, NCI, Hanamint, Agio. 

However, HOM’s Thomas Cole and Furniture Creations Direct private label products that they directly import from China are a substantial part of the business, allowing HOM to compete against the big box players like Home Depot and Costco.

Johnson says the outdoor category has grown less than other categories for HOM. “Mostly due to supply chain issues, in my opinion,” he says. “Most outdoor furniture is made in China, and domestic suppliers were not equipped to expand because most of their components come from China also. Fabric, specifically from Sunbrella, has been extremely difficult to get for suppliers, causing backlogs of 6-12 months for some manufacturers to complete products.  

Nonetheless, he says he thinks that if supply chains can improve, 2022 will be a very strong year for the outdoor category.

“I believe the outdoor category has been growing faster than indoor furnishings the past 10 years with the improvements in fabric durability, overall quality of product improvements and innovation, expansion of price points, and the general trends of consumers wanting to expand their home to include an outdoor living space,” he says. “Consumers having ‘staycations’ in 2020 and 2021 were great tailwinds for the category and probably will continue as international travel is still challenging with COVID variants causing travel issues.   

“However, from what I am seeing so far, this is going to be a challenge for specialty and home furnishings retailers,” he continues. “Another headwind will be pricing. Due to supply chain disruptions, many goods are moving on spot market prices causing huge price increases on top of the increases caused by the labor, fabric and metal cost increases. So we will see if consumers are willing to pay 30%+ more for patio in 2022 than in 2019.  We are taking the position that whoever has the stock on hand will win and have a strong year despite these headwinds.”

Alex Milstein

Alex Milstein is a contributor and social media coordinator for Home News Now and editor in chief of Casual News Now. He previously served as senior editor of both Casual Living and Designers Today. Prior to that, Alex covered technology for Furniture Today, with a focus on augmented reality, e-commerce, and 3D visualization.

View all posts by Alex Milstein →

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