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The hard way: the business for hard surfaces grew globally, while India and China were the leaders in soft exports.

EXECUTIVES AT VARIED WINTER MARKETS SAID THAT while retailers may have experienced a slowdown in their soft-coverings business, particularly in the fourth quarter, their hard-flooring business stayed strong and that kept the retail attitude more positive as they moved into the new year.

Looking ahead, recent reports show that the hard-flooring market is expected to keep on growing. Specifically, lower -cost, hand-detailed hard flooring from China is expected to have a big influence on a stateside consumer attitude toward getting more for less.

In the United States, positive economic trends and easy-to-install options for do-it-yourselfers have spurred growth in the laminate and vinyl flooring industry, with the market growing nearly 8 percent from 2001 to 2005 and the supply value topping $3 billion in 2005. While the housing market might have temporarily slowed, the remodeling boom is expected to continue, and the market should see healthy gains, according to Laminate and Vinyl Flooring in the United States, a report recently released by SBI, a division of MarketResearch.com. The study results anticipate the market for laminate and vinyl flooring here to exceed $4 billion by 2010.

Internationally, China is expected to lead the way in demand for hard-surface flooring, with recent reports placing the country at more than 3 billion square meters in 2010. That's a 7.3 percent jump per year for the next three years. The growth of the Chinese hard-surface flooring market is expected to outpace growth in the rest of the world, driven by healthy gains in building construction activity as industrialization efforts continue and income levels rise, according to a new study, Flooring in China, by the Freedonia Group Inc. Non-resilient flooring, including ceramic tiles, laminate, wood and stone, accounts for more than 90 percent of overall Chinese hard-surface flooring demand measured, the report said.

On the softer side, India continued to up its exports of wool floor coverings to the United States, gaining small bits of business lost by Iran, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, and increasing its lead over China, which remained flat in this area for the year. Insiders say India will be the one to watch moving ahead in this category, while China should continue its growing hold on the synthetics business, where the country actually increased its share last year, taking business from Canada.
U.S. IMPORTS OF
WOOL FLOOR COVERINGS

 (in millions) % Change
 Amount

2006 $1,027.2 3.9%
2005 $988.8 7.7%
2004 $918.1 3.9%
2003 $883.4 3.1%
2002 $856.8 1.1%
2001 $847.3 -8.4%
2000 $924.8 --

SOURCE: U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF TEXTILES AND APPAREL

TOP FIVE EXPORTERS OF
WOOL RUGS TO U.S., 2006

 (in millions) Share of Total
 Amount

1. India $354.6 35%
2. China $173.3 17%
3. Pakistan $113.0 11%
4. Iran $108.6 11%
5. United Kingdom $36.0 4%

SOURCE: U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF TEXTILES AND APPAREL

U.S. IMPORTS OF
SYNTHETIC FLOOR COVERINGS

 (in millions) % Change
 Amount

2006 $770.9 9.7%
2005 $702.9 13.4%
2004 $620.0 15.2%
2003 $538.0 12.4%
2002 $478.6 18.0%
2001 $405.7 5.9%
2000 $383.0 --

SOURCE: U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF TEXTILES AND APPAREL

TOP FIVE EXPORTERS OF
SYNTHETIC FLOOR COVERINGS
TO U.S., 2006

 (in millions) Share of Total
 Amount

1. Canada $189.3 25%
2. China $144.2 19%
3. Belgium $110.1 14%
4. Egypt $92.4 12%
5. Netherlands $41.8 5%

SOURCE: U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF TEXTILES AND APPAREL
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Title Annotation:FLOOR COVERING REPORT
Author:Quail, Jennifer
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 19, 2007
Words:597
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