14102 Mon, 03/24/2008 - 3:37pm
Additional sectors of the floor coverings business are seeing changes reflective of the environment as well. While insiders have pointed to hard surfaces actually doing well, that depends, of course, on which portion of that business is being discussed.
To look at plastic floor coverings, including vinyl, rubber and linoleum, the market is actually quite good, up 19 percent last year, a statistic not many categories in the home business can claim. The positive numbers stem from anticipated qualities, such as product cost and anticipated life span. Ceramic tiles, however, interchangeable for both wall and floor, have seen a drop of more than 14 percent, significant as this segment had experienced double-digit growth from 2002 to 2005, dropping to what was still single digit growth in 2006 when the housing market began its drastic slump. The same qualities driving the plastic end of the market could very well be working against ceramics as cost of both the product and its installation can be a drawback in strained economic times.
Of further interest in both categories here is the changes they have undergone with regard to product origin. Once again, China not only infiltrated these markets, but has made drastic leaps in its market share in just a few years. In plastic floor coverings, China has moved to the top of the list for the first time, edging out longtime front-runner Canada. The Asian nation’s growth in dollars here for 2007 topped out at more than 50 percent.
In ceramics, China has jumped from ranking close to the bottom of the list in 2000, to the number-four slot in 2007 and also held the distinction of being the only country among the top 10 exporters that did not experience a loss in export dollars that year. More than half of those countries tallied losses between 10 and 30 percent, with Indonesia, also in the top 10, dropping 58 percent. — Jennifer Quail