What will be the trends and consumer attitudes that will shape the closets and home organization industry in 2009? According to a new consumer research study conducted by CLOSETS magazine, consumers are excited about adding more organizational systems into their home, although some consumers are holding off on starting projects at the moment due to the economy.

Laurel Didier, Publisher of CLOSETS magazine, released the results of two independent research studies on the final day of the Closets & Home Organization Conference & Expo, which took place March 18 to 20 in Schaumburg, IL.

The first study looked at consumers’ awareness of the closets and home organization, their buying habits in 2008 and their plans to buy home organization products in 2009.

Although spending on home organization and closet products was down in 2008 compared to 2007, according to the study, more than one-third of respondents say they plan to add a custom closet or organization system in their home in the next two years, usually in either the garage, master bedroom or laundry room.

Respondents who said they are not planning to add a custom closet or home organization system said they are holding off because of the economy, saying things such as “We are not splurging on any indulgences now with the state of the economy.”

Of those consumers who did add a home organization system in 2008, about one quarter bought their system from a closet or home organization system professional, but the majority of consumers bought their own products from a retail store.

Consumers also said that price, company reputation and referrals are the top factors they consumer when choosing a professional to create their closet.

Didier also presented results from a second study, which looked at how closets manufacturers and providers fared in 2008.

According to that survey, average company sales for 2008 were actually up slightly from 2007, rising to $1.3 million compared to $1.2 million in 2007.

But that doesn’t mean the economy isn’t affecting the closets industry. About 74 percent of respondents said they are reacting to the economic slowdown by cutting back on expenses; 48 percent said they are laying off staff to keep expenses in check, and 40 percent said they have instituted a hiring freeze.

Closets manufacturers also said they are continuing to invest in showrooms. About 55 percent of respondents said they spent an average of $5,000 to remodel an existing showroom in 2008, while 12 percent spent an average of $10,000 to expand existing showrooms and another 12 percent spent an average of $18,600 to build a new showroom.

Closets manufacturers said they spend more than half of their operating budget on marketing and sales, although most companies do not know how much they spend per lead. Of those companies that tracked how much they spent to attract a lead, the average amount spent to attract a lead was $68, although some companies spend as much as $100 per lead.

Next year, manufacturers said they plan to increase their range of “green” products.

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