LOFA hopes to build outdoor living market share through fire safety assurance scheme

The Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association is raising awareness of the fire safety standards/regulations for garden cushions in a bid to boost sales of its members' products.

Solex LOFA
Solex LOFA

The LOFAssured initiative will launch at LOFA's annual trade show Solex, at Birmingham NEC on 11-13 July.

Each year LOFA commissions Shoppercentric to survey people on their outdoor furniture and barbecue buying habits. 

The overall market is £1.2bn, with 48% bought in-store, 26% from pure etailers and 26% from multichannel retailers. LOFA member sales account for around half that market and it hopes the initiative will increase that share.

The market size was £1.2bn in 2015, when two-fifths of UK households bought in outdoor living categories, but LOFA believes 2017 has been a good year for the sector, and has even seen some shortages.

GCA figures show furniture and barbecue sales were up 37% in April but were down 12% in May. They look to have picked up since and sales are still going during the warm summer.

Prices could rise further in 2018 after some companies held them following the post-Brexit vote weakening of sterling against the dollar. They hoped sterling might recover but it hasn’t and remains 18-20% behind pre-June 2016 levels, which has to be absorbed or passed on.

46% of those surveyed by Shoppercentric planned to buy barbecues in 2017.  71% planned to buy furniture and 59% accessories.

People are looking to buy more outdoor armchairs, smaller tables to compliment sets and lounge and dining sets, according to the survey.

Other findings include:

  • Younger buyers are after hanging seats, children’s furniture and beanbags.
  • Gas barbecue sales have fallen after a prolonged upward swing, while charcoal is up.
  • The biggest trend is for wood-fired pizza ovens, with sales up 50%.
  • Trends include to buy larger shade sails rather than simple parasols.
  • Some 98% already own furniture, with 87% owning accessories and 82% barbecues.

In the last survey, 8% spent a lot more than they expected on products, 55% spent what they expected and 18% spent less, with 19% other.

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