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RugMark Reports Consumers Are Buying More "Socially Responsible" Rugs

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RugMark announced that a growing number of U.S. rug consumers are factoring social responsibility into their rug purchasing decisions by selecting rugs with the RugMark certification label. In the wake of Metro Rug Alliance Market Week in New York – one of the rug industry’s most significant professional events – RugMark announces that certified rug imports to the U.S. have grown from $0 in 1996 to $8.9 million in 2006. Sales of child-labor-free rugs have increased by nearly 30 percent per year since 2004. RugMark’s strong results are consistent with the expansion of the socially responsible marketplace in general – a U.S. consumer sector that comprises more than 68 million people. In contrast, overall U.S. rug industry sales for 2005 and 2006 were flat and during the first half of 2007 have been at one of their softest levels in years, with experts pointing to higher gas prices and escalating home mortgages as the culprits. “RugMark’s expanding footprint on the U.S. rug market highlights the successes of The Most Beautiful Rug: RugMark’s Campaign to End Child Labor,” said Nina Smith, Executive Director of RugMark USA. Launched in 2006, the goal of The Most Beautiful Rug is to raise consumer and industry awareness about the child labor problem in the rug industry, which currently exploits nearly 300,000 children. “The growth that we have experienced indicates that more consumers and industry professionals are hearing our message and making the humanitarian choice by demanding child-labor-free rugs,” continued Smith. A year after launching The Most Beautiful Rug, awareness of RugMark among consumers in partner showrooms has nearly tripled. The number of rug importers and retailers who have committed to RugMark membership has also grown exponentially since 2004 as more industry participants recognize that RugMark affiliation has a positive effect on business. RugMark members cite that the affiliation raises the caliber of their business and that describing RugMark at the point-of-sale is instrumental in closing approximately 20 percent of sales. “In the current economic environment, in which some rug retailers have reported drops in sales of 20 to 30 percent since last year, RugMark certification provides vendors with a means of differentiating themselves and tapping into the burgeoning socially responsible market segment,” Smith explained. About RugMark: RugMark is an international nonprofit organization working to end exploitative child labor in the carpet industry and give educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The RugMark label offers the best assurance that no illegal child labor was used in the manufacture of a carpet or rug. A list of importers and retailers that sell RugMark certified rugs is available at www.RugMark.org.

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