In June's issue, Furniture News explored how the demand for outdoor furniture and furnishings has shifted since the start of the pandemic, with the help of: James Brown, director, Daro; Carole Nolan, garden furniture buyer, Gallery Direct; Marc Rogers, MD, Home Junction; Ella Broughton, head of product, Moda Furnishings; Samantha Jackson, commercial director, Bluebone Imports; and Andy Baxter, MD, Maze. But what might the longer-term outlook be? Does the panel feel the high demand for outdoor products will last?
James Brown: I think that we may see a cooling on outdoor furniture sales in the short term, mainly because it’s a luxury item that may slip down the pecking order with the increased cost of living. Freight rates continue to also be high, meaning that the actual cost of the product is elevated as to where it should be, and this will continue throughout 2022 into 2023.
We plan to keep looking at innovation and ways to reduce marginal costs on products without compromising on quality, and to keep offering consumers and retailers value-for-money products.
Carole Nolan: Given there has been a steady increase in demand for garden products over the last 15 years, I think we can safely say this isn’t a bubble that’s going to burst. The designs and innovation we are consistently seeing are one of the main driving factors for continued interest, as we can see the similar trend that we would with indoor ranges. Customers seek a quality product that will last, but also want the option to reinvent the look of an outdoor space over time with a new feel, and our accessories and textiles really help that.
As with all our product categories, we intend to continue leading by design, developing exciting new products to bring to market, to offer customers more choice for outdoor living.
Marc Rogers: We certainly hope so! People’s perceptions of how they can use their outdoor spaces have changed, and people are more open to having extra dining/living/eating spaces outside now. We need to keep inspiring people through product choice, and are looking to develop new ranges and accessories to grow the Home Junction brand.
Many smaller suppliers jumped on the bandwagon in late 2020/early 2021, but they faded away due to shipping issues and sky-high sailing prices. The market will settle down, and people shouldn’t look at 2020 as a ‘normal’ year but an exceptional one.
We are here for the long run, and plan to keep on growing the brand and the ranges we offer, whilst looking to work with some great retailers!
Ella Broughton: The outdoor living trend is here to stay, although everyone in the UK is feeling the pinch. Over the past few years, we’ve all placed far more importance on our outdoor spaces than ever before. Covid has really changed our attitudes towards how we use our outdoor spaces. Suddenly our gardens were the only places in which we could socialise, and as a result we’re now confident dining outdoors and accessorising our outdoor spaces, so they’re a stylish extension of our homes worthy of the same investment as indoors.
As working from home increasingly becomes the norm, we’ve even seen a shift to WFG (working from garden)! We will continue to develop clever products that mean our customers can make use of their outdoor spaces throughout the year.
Samantha Jackson: We believe the high demand for outdoor products will continue to grow, as consumers create more sophisticated (and weatherproof) outdoor areas. They will spend more time outdoors, and therefore invest more into making these areas comfortable and aspirational.
We will extend our garden furniture collection for 2023, with sample ranges already in production, and there are plenty of new occasional pieces and accessories in progress too, designed to be suitable both indoors and outdoors.
Read the rest of the feature in June's issue.