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Floored British Homeowners Turn To Independent Retailers

New research shows the nation turns to independent flooring retailers over e-zines, glossy home interest titles or social media channels for trusted advice and interiors inspiration.

Over half (52%) of 1,000 homeowners surveyed by OnePoll on behalf of Dewsbury-based wool spinner, Lawton Yarns, said they were most likely to seek out smaller, specialist stores to help inform their purchasing decisions. What’s more, 43% consider these independent outlets a primary source for home furnishing ideas. National showrooms were the second port of call with 28% visiting the better known brands while in buying mode. Just over a quarter (26%) would revert to carpet manufacturers’ websites.

“It’s clear consumers largely depend on ‘bricks’ over ‘clicks’ when they’re in flooring purchasing mode,” says Tim Kay of Lawton Yarns. “While that came as somewhat of a surprise, what was most telling to us, was the fact that there was very little variation between how younger age groups answered compared to older generations.

“We fully expected to see some variation – particularly on those questions pertaining to trends – be it what’s currently perceived desirable or sources of inspiration. But the statistics indicate widespread consensus when it comes to flooring preferences and where homeowners find support for a purchase that typically takes place only once every eight to 10 years.”

Although the results reveal some degree of confusion about the pros and cons of different flooring types, in general, most people have opted for carpet (67%) over hard flooring in their homes. When it comes to choosing which carpet, however, the uncertainty creeps in when deciding between a wool or wool-rich blend versus a synthetic make-up. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents reported that they did not know which carpet composition they prefer and there was a lack of knowledge on the full breadth of wool’s key performance benefits. For example, 60% of homeowners were unable to decipher which floor covering is the most fire retardant and 40% were unsure which material would be most resistant to the ‘flattening’ effect seen in high traffic areas over time. Both factors being important selling points for the wool camp.

“The impetus behind the research was to really understand what drives consumers in determining what they put down in their homes,” adds Kay. “Cost? Environmental concerns? Safety? Ease of maintenance? We were second guessing. Now, armed with these insights, we strongly believe that we can support the manufacturers and all-important retailers in getting the ‘buy wool’ message across. The time is right to hone in on the mood of the moment and regain rightful market share for nature’s wonder material.”

Despite the shown lack of understanding around the advantages of wool, 28% stated they would choose a pure wool carpet compared to the 7% favouring entirely synthetic products. Furthermore, though wool is often associated with artisan crafts and celebrated for its traditional heritage, man-made carpets were considered far more unfashionable.

“With the innovations in technical textiles this came as another big surprise,” says Kay. “It goes to show that sentiment plays a part and reiterates the exciting window of opportunity we have here, with all things raw, organic and inherently sustainable being very much in people’s consciousness. For the industry, it’s understanding how we can tap into these emotional triggers and convert a wider societal movement into growing sales for the wool carpet sector.”

Wool carpet has long had a reputation for being a comfortable, durable and quality flooring choice. But the natural benefits go far beyond these attributes. As a fire-retardant, sustainable and hypo-allergenic fibre, wool and wool-rich carpets offer a series of stand-out features that few consumers are currently considering. Perhaps one of the lesser known advantages being that wool filters the air and regulates humidity, creating more comfortable indoor environments. Another case-in-point is the misconceptions regarding maintenance concerns. Wool is resistant to flattening and stains and is proven to look great for longer – providing excellent value for money and offering an ideal solution for busy areas where wool has tended to be less frequently featured because of these misgivings.

 “Respondents cited the top three attributes as comfort, durability and quality, while the sustainability, ease of cleaning and hypoallergenic qualities of wool carpet ranked of lower importance [at 22%, 19% and 4% respectively],” observes Kay.

“We’re on a mission to take the lesser known and more hard-hitting benefits of wool to market – building on the great work already being done by contingents like The Wool Carpet Focus Group – of which Lawton Yarns is proud to be a member – the longstanding Campaign for Wool initiative and the British Wool Marketing Board’s increasing efforts in supporting the flooring sector. Together, the research shows, we can make a difference.”

To find out more about Lawton Yarns and the latest innovations in woollen yarn for carpet manufacture, please visit