This media console by Coast to Coast is shown with companion pier units.
HIGH POINT — Just as working from home has spurred sales in the home office segment, entertaining at home has spurred activity in home entertainment.
This is particularly true of larger scale consoles that can hold 70-inch-plus size TVs, making the living room or family room a home theater of sorts. Thus, the home has become as good a substitute as any for movie theaters and even music venues closed in recent months due to COVID-19.
While TV console sales have not necessarily matched or come close to the activity on the home office side of the business, the category still is doing extremely well, sources note.
This is due not only to increasing popular home gatherings like family movie night, but also the propensity of people of ages to watch streamed concerts, sporting events and other live performances they just can’t do in person, at least for now.
“In light of everything that is going on and how extremely depressing this pandemic has been, to be able to put yourself inside this bubble for a while and watch a good movie or concert, that is what is driving the business right now,” said Eric Shupack, CEO of home office and home entertainment specialist Furnitech.
He noted that demand for larger-scale consoles, ranging from about 70 to 82 inches has been strong, so strong, in fact, that Furnitech’s inventory largely has been depleted in recent weeks. However, more is on the way, with containers soon to arrive from Brazil, where the company’s line is manufactured.
“The bottom line is that people are going out and spending a fortune on TVs and TV consoles,” Shupack said. “It hasn’t slowed whatsoever. … At this stage, it behooves anyone in my position to stock items that are fast moving and that people want.”
Lisa Cody, senior vice president, marketing at Twin Star Home, agreed that people are getting larger and larger TVs with screens of 70 inches or larger, a trend in part driven by people entertaining at home more than ever. This is driving sales in TV stands at both brick-and-mortar and, particularly in e-commerce channels, she noted.
“Everyone is spending so much time in the home for things like family movie night,” she said, adding that video games are another increasingly popular activity on big screens. “People are nesting at home whether they are watching TV or playing games.”
She said the company has large menu of offerings in the console segment, spread across design themes such as contemporary, traditional, modern farmhouse, coastal and industrial/loft.
“We are definitely well-positioned,” she added, noting that features such as electric fireplaces and Bluetooth-enabled speakers provide added value to the category.
Bigger units gain attention
Home office and home entertainment specialist Martin Furniture said that while the home entertainment category hasn’t spiked like home office, demand is still strong particularly for large-scale units.
In the past, 60-inch consoles were among the most popular in the line. However demand has grown for larger scale units, with 80 inches being the most popular size, noted Gil Martin, CEO. He also noted that the heights have also changed with more units being offered in the 30- to 36-inch range, compared with 26 to 30 inches in years past.
He attributed the demand for the larger scale units, which in fact has been spiking over the past two to three years, to the price of televisions coming down.
“If you go online to Costco or wherever, the prices on these TVs is amazingly low, and the quality is exceptional,” he said, noting that the company’s larger cabinets of 70, 80 and 95 inches retail from $799 to $999. “And who isn’t streaming Netflix and Apple TV and just watching more movies at home?”
He added that the trend of movies getting on these services more quickly — and in some cases even before they hit theaters — is changing how people consume their entertainment while also driving interest and sales in the category. With COVID-19, this interest has simply increased.
Martin Furniture also offers units larger than 90 inches, which also retail around $999. To add value in the category, the company is also creating new designs that offer different doors and door configurations.
Tim Donk, director of marketing and business development at Legends Furniture, said it, too, has seen demand spike for larger units. For example, demand used to be the highest for its 65-inch consoles. Over time, that demand has shifted to 75-inch and 85-inch units, which retail around $699 and from $799 to $849, respectively.
Legends has had a 95-inch console for about six years, which Donk said was ahead of its time when it first came out. However he said demand for that size also is spiking right now.
“It is not the best seller, but it probably is four times what it was two years ago,” he said, noting that affordable TV prices are driving much of the current demand. “Seventy-five and 85-inch TVs are super cheap right now.”
Parker House Furniture said it started with 63- and 76-inch consoles but later expanded into larger footprints.
For example, it began focusing on 92-inch consoles about a year and a half ago in its Americana collection, which also has a hutch option which accommodates a 70-inch TV. Without the hutch, the unit can accommodate an even larger TV, noted Holly Lightfoot, director of merchandising.
It now has three total collections offering 92-inch console, also including River Rock and Sundance. Americana and Sundance also come with a more traditional hutch configuration with shelf units on both sides and a top shelf, while River Rock has a back panel with floating shelves, giving it more of an asymmetrical appearance.
“We are trying to give consumers flexibility with a space for a large TV but also having a wall look if they want it,” Lightfoot said.
The company also has 84-inch units with a hutch, which accommodate the placement of a large TV, but occupy less space.
“They are doing very well,” Lightfoot said of the larger scale units. “Since everything started opening up, we have seen a surge in orders. One of the reasons is that we have a warehouse program, and we maintained our inventory. We also kept bringing in things during the shutdown, so we are in a very good inventory position.”
A range of sizes
Not everyone focuses on larger scale units over 80 inches in size. For some, the demand remains strong in smaller sizes.
“The bulk of our media units are in the 60-inch to 72-inch range,” said Andy Stein, CEO of Coast To Coast Accents. “That is where our meat is, and that really covers the bulk of the flat screens. Obviously there are bigger credenzas out there, but the velocity, it drops dramatically.
Stein added that the company has seen increased demand for its console lineup, which retail from $599 to $699 in the aforementioned sizes.
“We are seeing it across multiple categories, not just media,” Stein said of demand, adding that the entertainment category is selling well on e-commerce and at brick-and-mortar retail. “I just know in general people are buying stuff for their homes because they are not traveling.”
While there has been a boost in business since April or May when retail began to reopen, activity in e-commerce was consistently strong. “It never dropped off, it just got stronger,” Stein said.
Still, others note that demand continues to rise for larger units, including at higher end resources such as Hekman Furniture.
“We are seeing a pickup in the business in home entertainment,” said Neil McKenzie, director of product development. “It is not to the level we are seeing in home office for sure, but it seems to be a lot of designer-driven stuff that is less price sensitive. They want a look, and it is a matter of whether you have a look that fits that customer or not.”
He said that the core of its business in the category is 70 inches and over, with some units pushing 80 inches, a size it has offered for the past three to four years.
“We had a variety with some around 72 and some dropping down to 60 and 48, McKenzie said. “The larger scale pieces always carried the day.”
He believes that demand for the larger scale units is driven by people living in or moving into homes with great rooms that can accommodate a larger scale TV.
“You need something substantial to fit that on,” he said, noting that, while he has heard of some resources that are offering consoles 100 inches or more, “we have not gotten into that at this stage. We are taking a look to see where the market is going.”