As Paul Weller once sang in The Style Council “the long hot summer just passed me by”.
It certainly feels like a distant memory as I sit and type this article. The temperature has dropped and the weather forecast is filled with warnings of 14 day storms and 80mph winds.
The start of Autumn may be upon us, however, one thing that does feel a little different, is that we’ve actually had a summer this year.
A long hot summer at that I may add. A prolonged period of rain-free sunshine. And with all that great weather, it feels to me like there’s been something of a shift in our relationship with our outdoor furniture.
The UK outdoor furniture market
Lazy Susan has had one of our best years on record, and as an industry sales of items such as outdoor furniture, BBQ’s, fire pits, pizza ovens etc are up by over 15% on 2017.
A recent report by MTW Research also stated that the number of gardens is growing more rapidly, fuelling this demand for the outdoor furniture and BBQ market.
MTW have also predicted that the number of UK gardens is set to increase by 500,000 in the next few years.
New gardens definitely means people need new things to put in them. Combine that with some decent weather, and things are definitely looking good for us here at Lazy Susan.
Where once we’d maybe pop a table and a few chairs, at Lazy Susan we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for ‘more’.
Consumers are designing their patios to incorporate multiple pieces of furniture. Creating spaces that function as place to both entertain and relax.
From side tables and sun loungers to parasols and soft furnishings, there is greater demand to make the space multi-functional. To create a space we can use all day, a space where we can relax, dine and use like our living rooms.
Lighting, heating, cooking, seating and entertaining!
Is social media influencing our relationship with outdoor furniture?
The good weather has played a key role in these changing attitudes, but I also think social media is having a big impact on our relationship with outdoor furniture. Social media ‘influence’ is showing us how we can use our gardens.
I recently read a report from one of the UK’s leading estate agents that stated that the right picture of a garden with an outdoor table laid for lunch can shake the relocation disinclination caused by higher rates of stamp duty on more expensive properties.
That’s a bold claim but I can believe it. We are very much sold on the lifestyle. Social media and the internet in general is probably the major player when it comes to inspiring trends, influencing our garden design and buying choices.
The same report stated that 67% of Brits are getting their garden design knowledge from the internet and social media.
Add to that the fact that as a nation we are becoming more likely to invite friends into our gardens for a BBQ, we’re now taking every opportunity to relax, socialise and dine outside.
We have spoken in many an article on this blog of wanting to turn the garden into an ‘outdoor room’, but in 2018 I really feel that talk has turned to action.
Outdoor furniture market is becoming more savvy
These industry buzz words tend to fly around. Magazine hype. I often feel they never truly translate into our own homes and gardens. But this is more about our attitudes to how we view our gardens, how we use them, more than what we put in it.
Yes, of course the glorious summer has played a big part in that, we were able to use them more, but at Lazy Susan we feel there is more to it, a bigger shift in the relationship we have with our outdoor furniture.
Increased demand for outdoor furniture that functions in different ways. Furniture that meets the needs of this new attitude towards our gardens and patios.
Multiple pieces of outdoor furniture, pairing a dining set with a sofa set and coffee table. Side tables for food prep. Creating zones on our patios that have a clearly defined purpose. Cooking, eating and relaxing.
We know what we want from our outdoor furniture
One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t be looking to sit in my garden today. In the UK one thing is sure, we have clearly defined seasons. Mind, even they can be pretty muddled.
The advantage of having outdoor furniture that’s designed to be left outside all-year is that it’s there when you need it. But our industry is evolving, consumers are demanding more from their outdoor furniture.
Yes they want it to be constructed from materials that will stand up to the British weather. But you only have to go back say 6 or 7 years ago and that was our key message. Maybe only the only selling point customers were interested in.
Cast aluminium can be left outside all year round and it will not rust… Sold. Of course it needs to look good too.
And whilst material quality is still one of the major factors in the decision making process, we are finding that in the last 5+ years or so our customers are becoming much more savvy.
They know how they uses their patios and gardens. They know what pieces of furniture will work for them.
We want more from our patios and outdoor furniture
In the past many of us were guilty of just putting outdoor furniture on our patios because we sort of felt the need to do it or because we needed something in that space. Hands up if you had a garden bench you never sat on. I’m guilty of that one.
The days of just having a 4 seat patio set aren’t gone but there’s a definite shift. We definitely want to uses them for a starter.
Many consumers are demanding more from their outdoor furniture. We are thinking more about how we use our outdoor spaces. Or should I say how we can better use them.
Extension tables, side tables, outdoor soft furnishings, fire pits, pizza ovens and the like are improving all the time. They are allowing us to design our patios very much how we’d approach the layout of a room inside the home. We can create a space we can use and spend a day in if the weather permits.
We are seeing people create clearly defined zones. An outdoor dining set for meals. Sofa with low coffee table for relaxing. BBQ and side table for cooking. The patio can function and flow just like a living room if we so wish. And long may it continue!