Stats 2021: Mills register breakout year

The improved looks, patterns and styles now showing up in carpet are the result of vastly improved technology that has transformed the segment, according to executives. “What we have seen in the last five years is that carpet technology has improved significantly so we are making a better-looking carpet,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product development for Mohawk. “In addition, everyday carpet is still a cost advantage over hard surfaces.”

Shaw Floors’ Christensen noted that “higher-end goods are performing well within their target demographic, and we’re also seeing increased preference for foundational styles. Pet-friendly solutions that promise high performance and high style are also winning at retail as homeowners look to protect the longevity of their investments.”

Commercial spring to life

After a painful 2020 in which sales plummeted 21.7% with volume close behind at -21.4%, commercial carpet rebounded in 2021 with sales up 2.8% and volume essentially flat. FCNews estimates the commercial market at $2.99 ​​billion for 2021 with specified contract sales at $2.250 billion and Main Street at $749 million.

[Note: For years, a large percentage of mills considered level-loop polypropylene a Main Street product, mostly installed in rental space/tenant improvement and low-end apartments and basements. Today, much of this business has been lost to low-end polyester cut piles. These cut-pile sales are reported as residential, not Main Street. As well, some mills break out Main Street from their specified business, for example, identifying smaller K-8 to K-12 schools as Main Street.]

Typically, the commercial segment lags residential in rebounding from a catastrophic event such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, albeit commercial stays in demand longer. This is because many commercial jobs are planned months out, and there is a pipeline that has to be built and completed. That scenario played out in 2021 and has continued into the first part of 2022 with commercial sales up 14.8% and unit volume up 4%.

“We are starting to see a more consistent return in the commercial market,” Marquis’ Graham said. “The hospitality sector is one of the bright spots. As the population returns to the new normal—with vacationing, dining and entertainment experiences—we are starting to see these businesses make investments to update their facilities.”

Some of that investment is seen in the retail, education and professional/corporate segments as well as Main Street. With respect to flooring types, carpet tile continues to grow as a percentage of soft surface commercial, accounting for more than 60% of the commercial soft surface market, according to industry estimates.


Brisk activity took place in the rug segment from cut and bound or cut and serged broadloom. This has become the preferred way many customers are buying rugs these days as fewer retailers provide area rug racks in their showrooms. Among the key objections is having to maintain expensive inventory. In terms of size, retailers are ordering custom rugs in a variety of shapes and sizes.

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