Remote working and changes in living spaces have led to a 14% increase in furniture sales in 2021, according to France Info, and the European furniture market is expected to grow by about 5.1% each year by 2026. In response to these changes, home retailers must adapt their offers to become sustainable while also improving customer experience. Therefore, it is necessary to communicate clearly about:
- the origin,
- and certification or labels of the products.
Distribution methods are also evolving, with physical stores providing a more immersive and personalized experience, and e-commerce sites offering customization options or 3D visualizations. Click-and-collect options save time while reducing carbon emissions caused by shopping in different outlets.
Challenges for housing retailers include the need to find sustainable suppliers and educate customers about the benefits of durable products. They also need to find the right balance between sustainability and cost, in order to offer sustainable products at affordable prices. Financial support such as Ma Prime Renov’ in France or European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) in Europe allow housing retailers to guide buyers throughout their sustainable property project.
An integrated approach is needed to simplify administrative processes, such as the integrated housing procedure (PIL) in France. It is also necessary to find the right persons to talk to at different levels (local, regional, national) and to take into account the financial and technological constraints there are regarding sustainable housing. In Germain Hot’s opinion, “the solution lies in training builders about environmental constraints and in intelligent urban renovation”. Innovation is key, for instance with technologies like motion and presence sensors and taking advantage of the heat produced by servers, as proposed by the French company Qarnot.
Regarding the various issues and challenges of sustainable housing, players of the housing sector like retailers and manufacturers need to adapt by offering sustainable, transparent and innovative solutions.
The future of sustainable housing lies in technological progress, new construction methods and the collaboration between the different players. Public policies and training courses also have to evolve in order to support the development of appropriate skills and to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices throughout the housing sector.