Survey: Consumers Want to Make Outdoor Living Spaces More Relaxing

High Point, NC – Following record amounts of snow and ice in January, millions of consumers are dreaming of spring and looking ahead to making their outdoor spaces even more relaxing and enjoyable.

More than 70 percent of U.S. households have outdoor living spaces, and nearly 70 percent of those households use these spaces at least once per week in season, according to research just commissioned by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA).

“Spring can’t come soon enough, especially for those consumers on the East Coast who have just been through this horrendous blizzard,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of AHFA and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association. “Outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly important to consumers, and that will be particularly true this year after such a rough winter and so many people being stuck inside for so long.”

According to the survey, 71 percent of consumers who have outdoor spaces would like to enhance their space. The top priority is to make it more relaxing, cited by nearly half of respondents who want to make a change.

“Of course consumers want to make their outdoor spaces more relaxing,” said Hirschhaut. “So many people live crazy, fast-paced lives. What better place to slow down and relax than in your own outdoor space?”

Other plans for outdoor living spaces this year, according to the survey, include updating its style, cited by 36 percent of those wanting to make a change; adding more seating, 32 percent; better accessorizing, 28 percent; and adding more curb appeal, 19 percent.

The survey shows that more than 40 percent of consumers with outdoor spaces plan to add one or more items to their spaces this year. For those consumers, a chaise or lounge chair was at the top of the list, cited by 42 percent.

“It’s no surprise that seating tops the list,” said Hirschhaut. “Since consumers are looking to make their outdoor spaces more relaxing, they need comfortable places to sit. And adding more seating allows them to easily host more people when they entertain, a popular outdoor activity.”

Other items consumers said they plan to add include a dining table or dining chairs, 37 percent; lighting, such as lamps or lanterns, 30 percent; an umbrella, 29 percent; a fire pit, 28 percent; an outdoor sofa or sectional, 28 percent, pillows, 26 percent; and a hammock, 24 percent.

Consumers who are trends-focused are most looking forward to seeing new colors in outdoor furnishings this year, with 43 percent naming new colors as first on their list. Other trends these consumers are looking forward to are new designs of existing types of furniture, 37 percent; more compact furnishings for smaller spaces, 34 percent; completely new styles of furnishings that they’ve never seen before, 34 percent; and new materials, 30 percent.

According to the survey, the average age of consumers’ outdoor furnishings is seven years. For 58 percent, their furnishings were purchased in the past five years, leaving 42 percent with furnishings more than five years old.

“Based on what I have seen in offerings for spring 2016, consumers should be pleased and excited by the breadth of offerings and the fashionable new colors,” Hirschhaut said. “Manufacturers and retailers have done a great job of addressing the rising popularity of outdoor spaces by focusing on fresh new colors, styles and materials. And, after the January we’ve had, spring and the outdoor living that comes with it will be even more welcome.”