CIN research offers deep dive into planned upholstery purchases in 1st half

Sofas, sectionals and other living room seating remain top of mind for those across all age groups, but particularly with younger consumers

HIGH POINT — Once again, our Consumer Insights Now research shows that sofas and sectionals are the most-sought-after category by consumers in the market for furniture.

It’s been a consistent result of our twice-a-year surveys dating back to September 2022. In our latest report, which tracks spending plans in the first half of this year, 36% of those surveyed said they plan to buy a sofa or sectional, followed by 29% who said area rugs, 25% who said decorative accessories, 24% who said mattresses for the primary bedroom and 23% who said occasional tables. Thus, looking at the top four out of five most-sought-after categories, it’s clear that consumers are focused on the living room or den.

The seating category ranked particularly high among young consumers, with 38% of those ages 18-27 (Gen Z), 47% of those ages 18-35 (younger millennials) and 39% of those ages 36-43 (older millennials) placing it at the top of their furniture wish list.

Within the seating segment, it’s worth noting that sectionals are favored by one of three consumers surveyed and are the most-sought-after seating option of choice for every age group except baby boomers ages 60 and up. Forty percent of those consumers prefer a standard sofa. Among younger consumers, only between 15% and 22% are looking to buy a standard sofa, compared to 17% and 28% who plan to buy a sofa, loveseat and chair group.

Also worth noting is that 49% of shoppers plan to buy motion/reclining upholstery, with 60% of younger millennials ages 28-35 interested in the category compared with 50% of older millennials ages 36-43 and 46% of Gen Z looking to buy motion. And overall, half of shoppers are interested in power motion, compared with 27% who said manual and 24% who said they weren’t sure.

In the sectional category by itself, 54% said they were interested in motion functionality compared  with 35% who said they planned to purchase stationary sectionals. For standard-sized sofas, 57% said they were interested in stationary, and 32% said motion, with the balance not sure.

Other takeaways from the survey were as follows:

+ 56% plan to buy fabric upholstery compared with 25% who said leather. Another 19% said they were not sure.

+ Fabric was the preferred option for between 50% and 60% of younger consumers, with 27%-33% saying they preferred leather.

+ Fabric was the preferred option among 52% and 56% of Gen X (ages 44-59) and baby boomers over age 60, respectively, with leather the preferred option for between 24% and 17% of those age groups respectively.

+ Fully upholstered sofas and sectionals were the preferred option for 46% of those surveyed overall including between 45% and 54% of younger consumers and 41% and 42% of older consumers.

+ Wood legs and trim were sought by 29% of those surveyed overall — favored by between 25% and 30% of younger consumers surveyed and 30%-31% of older consumers.

+ Some 25% of those surveyed said they were not sure of which features they prefer, which leaves open the door of opportunity to educate consumers in all age groups of the different looks available in the upholstery category.

The survey also looks at color preferences by age group, while segmenting the favored colors and/or patterns by region of the country. It also looks at sought-after features and benefits with performance fabrics topping the list sought by 56% of those surveyed, followed by cupholders (26%), USB port/phone-charging capabilities (23%), storage functionality (20%), made with sustainable, eco-friendly materials (12%) and built-in speakers (9%).

Other areas of interest in the survey include the reasons people are in the market for upholstery with 45% of those surveyed saying they have a new home, adding a sofa to an existing room (41%), building a new room or addition (8%) and repurposing a room for a different use (6%).

In addition, the survey looks at where people plan to buy (79%) in-store, broken down further by the type of store where people will shop versus online (21%). Also worth noting is that 28% of those surveyed plan to spend between $1,000 and $1,999 for a sofa, indicating a sweet spot for many suppliers and retailers alike. Meanwhile some 32% overall plan to spend between $500 and $999, an indication that the market for lower-middle to promotional products is alive and well.

We encourage readers to use this information to their benefit in the coming weeks and months ahead as it offers a roadmap into what consumers are looking to buy and spend in this and other categories. That said, we also encourage feedback on these results as well. What are you seeing in your respective markets? Does our research align with consumer buying trends for your stores? Feel free to respond in the comments section or by emailing Editor-in-Chief Tom Russell at

Below is the schedule of past and upcoming CIN reports.

+ March 11 — CIN Overview into Planned Furniture Purchases for the First Half of 2024

+ March 18 — Sofa and Sectional Buying Plans

+ March 25 — Occasional Table Buying Plans

+ April 1 — Mattress Buying Plans

+ April 8  — Home Design and Sustainability

+ April 15 — Furniture Shopping Plans

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

View all posts by Thomas Russell →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Newsletter for breaking news, special features and early access to all the industry stories that matter!

Sponsored By: