A roundup of the top five recent developments in at-home empires.

Home spending is skyrocketing. In the latest US stimulus package, American consumers spent 21% of their checks on home-related items, according to GlobalData—which isn’t surprising, given that 77% of Americans took on at least one home improvement project in 2020, up from 68% in 2019.

In 2020, net sales at home improvement meccas like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware rose by 20%, 24% and 28%, respectively. Dollar sales in the US home improvement category rose 22% in 2020, according to data from the NPD Group. NPD also found that dollar sales of small appliances and housewares grew 46% and 38%, respectively, in January 2021, while sales of home textiles rose 19% rise in 2020.

To meet growing demand, brands are ramping up their homeware offerings—in some cases even pivoting from other categories.

Gap Home
  • Gap is getting into the homeware game. The clothing retailer will launch a new home essentials brand on June 24, 2021, to be sold exclusively on Walmart.com. This could reflect a new formula for mass-market clothing brands: at the end of February, Levi Strauss & Co launched Levi’s for Target, a lifestyle collection that marked the clothing brand’s first foray into home goods.
Christian Siriano furniture. Photography by Tim Lenz
  • Couture fashion designer Christian Siriano is turning his attention from the red carpet to the home. The designer released his first furniture line in May 2021, which premiered on Architectural Digest and will be sold at luxury home retailer 1stDibs.
  • Outer is bringing “drop culture” to the home category, AdWeek reports. “Hyped product drops are commonplace in the apparel sector, but this is a first for outdoor furniture,” said Corinne Crockett, vice president of marketing at Outer. The company’s sales shot up by 1,000% in 2020, and they raised $10.5 million in Series A funding in January to expand the model across the US.
Bed Bath & Beyond's Our Table line, announced in June 2021, is one of many owned homeware brands the retailer is rolling out as part of its Home, Happier campaign.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond’s new “Home, Happier” campaign, launched in April, is a direct reflection of the home’s evolving role. The campaign—which is one of the brand’s biggest to date— “lays the groundwork for a three-year transformation roadmap that aims to further solidify the retailer’s authority” in the home category, Retail Dive reports, including a swathe of new owned brands. The positioning was inspired by the brand’s research, which uncovered a strong link between happiness and home design: 69% of Americans say their home impacts their overall happiness and 66% say their happiness is negatively impacted when they dislike the way their home looks and feels.
  • In an April article, Refinery29 offered one explanation for the growing attention to homewares, making the case that interior design and home improvement is a form of self-care. “We should treat the maintenance of our homes as a central part of our wellness routines,” holistic interior designer Gala Magriñá told the platform.

Why it’s interesting

As we reported in “The Future 100: 2021” (see trend #72, “At-home empires”), the home is flexing to accommodate new functions—and is attracting heightened investment and being linked to overall wellbeing as a result. “Not only is home more important to us than ever before—it’s the center of our lives now with school and work—but there is a direct link between the way you feel about your home and the way you feel about your life and your happiness,” Bed Bath & Beyond’s chief brand officer Cindy Davis said.

And with homeownership rates in the US jumping up to 66% last year, according to Statista, experts are predicting continued growth in the category post-pandemic. Expect to see sustained consumer spend in homewares and increased focus from brands.

Main image of Christian Siriano furniture, photography by Tim Lenz