Canadian furniture trends can be difficult to identify. Muskoka chairs crafted from hockey sticks are a rare sighting, moose skin rugs are too big for most living rooms, and the beaver pelt trade is long past its glory days. It’s safe to say that most Canadians now buy furniture from a store. But what are the trend changes since the times of log cabins? Are there still styles and habits from that define us Canucks?
With the forever climbing sales numbers in the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets, it’s easy to guess that a lot of Canadians are moving into cities. By percentage, Canada has a higher population in urban areas than the United States, and it shows in their shopping habits. For one, it means that more people are buying smaller furniture. Ten piece dining sets are off the shopping list, and café sized tables have replaced them. Multi-purpose furniture is also trending up.
Style is also impacted by urbanization. With condo unit sizes comparable to shoeboxes, compactness impacts aesthetics. Minimalist and modernist designs fit nicely into small spaces. Their lack of decoration keeps rooms from seeming cluttered. There’s also an industrial look that goes with loft apartments. An industrial, raw metal, reclaimed wood look grows in sales as people move into converted factories.
Online shopping is more attractive than ever. And it’s a trend that’s not exclusive to harlequin books or ironic t-shirts. Canada Post has offered statistics on web commerce and stated that online furniture store shipments have increased by 7% year over year. 76% of Canadians bought something online in 2014, and once people start the habit, they tend to return to it. The prairie and Atlantic Provinces are adapting to online shopping – something the urban areas are already nearly fluent in.
As a whole, online stores ship orders quickly and have up-to-date data on what’s in stock. Stores are more reliable and so more trusted; with growing practices like free returns, people are willing to click the buy button based on a web photo. Sites are sleeker and more convenient. However, the trump card of online shopping will forever be convenience. As web functionality grows, so will the use of online stores.
With the internet age, brand loyalty was taken down a peg. Veritas Communications found that 7 out of 10 Canadians could trade away their favorite brands if something new appeals to them.
So how do Canadians choose what to buy? Recommendations. Personal recommendations are the most powerful influence for a new brand or store. For younger Canadians, Social Media recommendations can be just as strong. 84% of Canadians under twenty-four said social media influences their shopping behavior.
Because brand loyalty is fluid, independent and online furniture stores are less likely to be dwarfed by big name companies. Online furniture stores have the advantage of finding their website linked to twitter feeds or have a coffee table added to a Pinterest blog. Independent storefronts can show off a new bookshelf with a sleek Instagram photo.
Do Canadians like buying furniture from Canada? Canada has inventive designers, quality manufacturers, and brilliantly curated furniture stores. Still, a global internet has made international shopping easier than ever. According to the CIRA, 62% of Canadians prefer to support Canadian businesses - but do they follow through?
Price is still reportedly the number one decider of shop patronage, the next is stock selection. However, this doesn’t cut Canadian shops from the action. The Canadian dollar is sinking in value and stands to remain low for a while. Crossing the US border, both in the cyber sense and real world sense, is no longer a benefit to Canadians. This also means that a Canadian-made bar stool has a competitive value.
This isn’t to say that the “Made in Canada” sticker won’t have an impact. Canadian culture is known for its kindness, and social consciousness still plays a part. Reclaimed wood is growing in popularity, as well as sustainable materials. Local delivery also stands out for online shops.
With the Times
Canadians aren’t easy to pigeonhole as furniture buyers. Generally, they are moving with the times – buying with contemporary taste, open to online options, and making an effort towards sustainability. We can finally say that the online furniture store has bypassed the fur trade.
Published by Steffen Ploeger