After a year spent indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are spending money to upgrade their spaces. And those purchases are driving not only business, but also a shift in trends for the home sector.
According to the recent Edited Homeward E-commerce Playbook report, the homeware sector is forecasted to reach $838.6 billion by 2027, up from $616.6 billion in 2019. In the shorter term, gains in individual categories, materials and colors point to the pandemic’s impact on consumer tastes and spending habits.
The Edited report found that spending on throws increased by 125 percent year-over-year, and bedding revenues increased 63 percent over that same period. That lines up with some of the data from a recent Style Sage report on the most-searched home-related keywords, which found “air fryer,” “sofa,” “sheets,” “blender,” and “mirror” at the top of the list. And “sheets” was among the terms with the highest increase of searches since last year, up 18 percent.
With that in mind, here are a few trends shaping the homeware business right now.
While the Hygge trend hit big a few years ago, Covid increased the desire to create a cozy, comfortable nest. This translates to a boost in furniture and home goods made with soft, plush fabrics—for instance, the Edited report found spending on highly textural boucle fabric increased 66 percent year-over-year, and the number of faux fur options stocked jumped 351 percent. And fashion plays a role in the trend, too.
“Softcore dressing has been a strong aesthetic born from Covid lifestyles of being comfortable while working from home,” said Kayla Marci, market analyst for Edited. “This has influenced home assortments to offer products that create a safe, cozy environment through plush fabrics and rich textures.”
Driven by the popularity of gray, cool color palettes have been king for several years, but recently a warming trend has hit the home sector. Icy shades have given way to warmer, brighter colors, and while gray still has a place, browns have become the hot new neutral.
“Following a year spent indoors, there’s been a shift in creating a bright and happy space, a movement that will continue as flexible home working remains the norm,” said Marci. “To cater to this, retailers have pivoted away from cool color palettes.”
Another hot hue? Green. Everything from sage and mint to rich, earthier tones like moss and emerald are in high demand for the home. According to the Edited report, green accounts for 13 percent of sofa arrivals this year, up from 4 percent last year.
And like the soft materials trend, this shift takes cues from the fashion industry, which has been awash in green—a color that signifies positivity and a fresh start.
“Earthy and natural hues also complement the wider home trend of bringing the outdoors inside and the boom in house plants and wicker furniture, getting closer to nature and creating the illusion of holiday resorts at home,” Marci said.
And that trend of blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces has also led to a bump in outdoor furniture sales. According to Style Sage, the top category for sold-out products at Target, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx over the first weeks of July was garden and patio.
The clean lines, neutral palettes, and spare spaces of minimalist design have found fans among many over the past decade. But in the age of Instagram and other image-driven social media, color, texture, and pattern rule. And younger generations in particular are experimenting with maximalist looks as they begin outfitting their first homes. These colorful, often whimsical spaces—a look generally achieved through accent pieces and decor items—reflect their personality, and of course, look great on the ‘Gram.
“This has driven the viral success of color-blocking and clashing hues across paints, furniture, and home accessories, as well as colorful blown glassware, kitsch trinkets, and candles and vases in organic and neotenic shapes,” Marci said.
But Marci cautions this trend doesn’t fully apply to bigger items like sofas and beds.
“Minimalism will still be embedded in homeware, especially for big-ticket items that consumers will own for a long time,” she said.
Green isn’t just a color trend. Sustainability has become a big push in the home sector as consumers become more aware of climate change, carbon footprint, and other environmental issues. Edited found that the number of eco-friendly products stocked by online home retailers jumped 101 percent year-over-year.
And just as there has been a backlash against fast fashion, trend-driven, disposable homewares have been rejected by some consumers concerned about the impact these items can have on the environment.
“Consumers are becoming more aware and educated about the environmental and ethical impact of what they’re buying, adding pressure on companies to evolve their products and processes,” Marci said.
That environmental awareness has led to an uptick in the use and sale of natural materials, as well. According to Edited, organic cotton saw a 52 percent increase in arrivals, the use of rattan increased 167 percent year-over-year, and wicker furniture is up 33 percent from last year. And the demand for rattan and wicker dovetails with the “Grandmillennial” trend—the aesthetic of young, stylish people with an appreciation for granny chic.
While the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt in myriad ways, the lingering effect of the pandemic continues to shape not only how we live, but where we live, as well.