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No longer is it enough to simply paint the walls of your home and fill the various rooms with necessary appliances and items of furniture that homeowners need in order to function. Whether a home is owned or rented, and whether it is permanent or temporary, the rise in the prominence of the homeware industry as a market built on decoration and appearance is one which comes directly from the consumer need to fill their homes with items which are stylish and aesthetically attractive.
There are a wide breadth of demands and trends which lie behind the significant growth of the homeware industry, but one of the most obvious which is serving to increase popularity in the market with consumers is the rise in disposable income which homeowners can afford to spend on these homewares. After all, what use is a market industry with tons of options and choices, if the target consumer cannot afford to buy them?
The homeware industry, served by so many different brands and retailers from big industry names down to small businesses and independent creators, is one of the widest industries in terms of the availability and versatility of vouchers and deals, with homeware existing as one of the leading industries used by consumers to distinguish their style and personality and surround themselves with items and looks which suit them – sitting alongside fashion at the top of the personal style and preference market. Thus, not only is it one of the most popular with consumers but it is also one of the best markets to break into if you are a small business or creator looking to bring your own brand and style to the market.
If you were to look up the definition of homeware in today’s world, the results would be centred primarily around decoration – and while this is something which is generally picked up by modern consumers through spending and the items they pick and choose from shops and ecommerce stores, once upon a time the only homeware and decorative accessories which homes could benefit from were those which a family made for themselves.
In history, home décor and various homeware products have often been used as a sign and symbol of wealth more than anything else, with beautifully decorated homes only available to the noble and wealthy families among society. In fact, it wasn’t until the 18th century that such luxuries were made available for a mass market – and even then many families couldn’t afford to have such exquisite features unless they were able to craft or weave them for themselves.
Despite this, it is through the changes and shifts in various items of homeware that the modern audience can really get a feel for the design trends of times gone by – with art history being one of the most studied modules by creatives who are intrigued and enraptured by the ways in which different eras have presented and used decoration across the home. In the 16th century the focus for the richest households was on the carpets and tapestries which now line the walls of museums; while in the 18th century decoration became much more about large items of furniture and upholstery which we see depicted in works of art from the period and in the pieces which have survived. Jumping forwards again, it wasn’t until the 19th century that decoration finally became something able to be obtained by a wider audience, sparking the growth of an industry which allowed consumers to aspire to make their own homes as opulent and beautiful as those homes owned by the richest families in the community.
Marking the huge developments that the industry has undergone since these earliest days, to look at the homeware industry today as a whole it becomes clear that one of the leading factors of growth is not availability or cost. In fact, it tends to be the vast array of sales and deals which occur within the industry with every change of season and every occasion which is celebrated nationally and globally – convincing and encouraging consumers that with every change in the weather they should be marking the shift with a new cushion or a brand new lamp. This seeks to highlight the basic concept that much of the modern growth and development of the homeware industry comes down to deals, discounts and making grand ideas more attainable.
When it comes to finding the right homeware products for the home, consumers really are spoilt for choice – with many stating that their homes are filled with a mix of high end and expensive accessories and items, as well as much cheaper pieces which are simply there to add a little something extra to a room or specific space. Many of the most successful retailers are those which present homeware pieces which look high end and elegant, but which are affordable to the average buyer, with some of the best places to look for homeware products including:
You will notice that a few of the brand and retailer names on the list are in fact department stores which do not exclusively deal with the homeware industry. These are the retailers which have recognised the demand within the homeware industry and inserted themselves with own brand and third party branded products and supplies; joining the likes of supermarket stores in meeting demand across other areas outside of their target market.
Another retailer sector which deals heavily in the homeware industry is marketplace retailers and small businesses; ranging from small local stores which serve local communities and local markets, to ecommerce stores making a name for themselves through e-marketplaces like NotOnTheHighstreet and Etsy. As well as being renowned for their unique and individual designs, these sites have received a huge boost in recent months with the creation of shop small campaigns and the increase in focus on small businesses around Christmas time as more and more consumers look to use independent retailers and brands as opposed to the classic big stores on the high street to complete their gifting.
One of the overriding trends at play in the homeware industry is the rise in brands and retailers which are taking high end and designer concepts and making them more affordable – whether that be through the use of cheaper materials and manufacturing methods, or simply because the industry is no longer so focussed on quality but rather on quantity, thus rendering the higher priced products unviable. This trend is of particular note in light of the rise of different sized businesses in the homeware industry, with marketplace sites like Etsy and NotOnTheHighstreet providing a platform to those smaller businesses which create unique and innovative items for the home – from door stops to paintings, knitted throws, ceramic bowls and candles. However, one of the major challenges which has come to light across social media and various campaigns is the subsequent rise in larger retailers taking ideas from smaller businesses and creating them in a cheaper way – before selling them to consumers for well reduced prices. While this can be regarded as a bargain for the consumer, businesses all over the world are encouraging consumers to shop small and promote and support smaller businesses rather than larger ones.
Another trend in the homeware industry and one which has become monumentally influential across a wide range of retailers and brands is the focus on modern living and modern styling – channelling the use of neutrals and minimalist designs rather than vibrant and colourful products. This trend has become so popular that it is now often referred to as Scandi style living – with the global market taking hold of the concept of Nordic and Scandinavian minimalist styling and bringing it to the wider mass market. This is currently being channelled through both specialist modern homeware stores like Cox & Cox and Scandi Blomma, and broader homeware retailers which have expanded their offering into the Scandi minimal market and beyond in an attempt to capture a wider net of consumers, as well as a wide range of independent crafters selling through online marketplaces and seasonal community markets.
Seasonal occasions and events also play a big part in the homeware industry and its trends, with Spring, Summer, Halloween, Christmas and New Year all sparking huge overhauls in the way that consumers dress their homes – stocking new, innovative and on-trend decorations and homeware accessories across all of these seasons in line with consumer demand. Examples of these kinds of homeware trends include the rise in Christmas trees every year expanding across both real and fake trees, and encompassing all manner of different decorations and ornaments; the growing trend around year-round wreaths rather than just using wreaths at Christmas, allowing consumers to bring a little bit of decorative homeware to the outside of their house as well as the interiors; and the consistent rise in popularity of Halloween on a global scale as Europe continues to embrace the holiday in a similar way to the USA where Halloween is already a big business. This selection of annual trends not only allows retailers to constantly upgrade their shelves as the seasons pass, but it also presents an opportunity for organised consumers in particular, with the inevitable end of season discounts and sales creating more affordable markets for those willing to shop 12 months in advance of the next year’s seasons and events.
Of course, homewares don’t have to be limited to the inside of the home – with another growing trend in the industry being the way that consumers are always looking to upgrade their outside spaces and find ways of creating a harmonious and seamless transition from inside to outside. There are a variety of different ways of doing this, with brands and retailers consistently advertising new products and concepts which allow homeowners to bring the outside in and to recreate their interior styling in their gardens and across their patio spaces. Some examples include large open doors and windows, curtains and blinds which promote seamless viewing from the inside to the outside, complimentary outdoor furniture which matches the style found inside, and even ornaments and accessories like live plants indoors and tables and decorative pieces outside.
And finally, to the trend which comes as a result of our understanding and appreciation of global cultures and travel. We have already looked at and introduced the concept of Scandi and Nordic style living as an overriding trend in the homeware industry, but what about other trends across the globe? From tropical prints to Turkish painted tiles, Italian colours and Moroccan rugs, many consumers are surprised to find out just how many standard products within the industry come from global trends and influences; expanding our horizons as consumers and encouraging us to bring different styles into our home whether in bold and standout ways, or through small hints and influences. This trend in homewares from various backgrounds and cultures also extends into the rise in travel gifts and souvenirs being used as part of unique home styling, with consumers looking for everything from fridge magnets to wall art and tapestries during their holidays and travels in order to bring items back and use them to breathe life into the home.
When we break the homeware market down into its different areas of focus, it seems that the modern industry is largely centred around decorative accessories and those products which bring the home to life rather than provide purely functional uses. Whether a consumer chooses to spend a little more on a higher quality item, or instead opt for cheaper products which they can buy more of, the growth of the homeware industry relies on a wide variety of items designed to entice all demographics and consumers, as well as the consistency of annual and seasonal deals and discounts, and the retention of disposable income which consumers can use to spend across the homeware industry.
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