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Oriental Rugs May be Slightly Different in Size Than Advertised

It's in the best interest of both producer and supplier to make a good faith effort in accurately stating rug and carpet measurements.  A vendor looks guilty when they advertise one size, and another size slightly smaller or larger arrives.  The discrepancies we're talking about in most cases are minimal, often in the range of +/- an inch or two.  This is not an unlikely scenario, which is why it's important to understand in most cases, reputable vendors do the best they can to provide precise measurements, although there are many elements which may pose difficulty in this proposition.

In order to understand why rugs are subject to different sizes than listed, one must have a basic knowledge of the facts:

1: Imprecise measuring practices, misreading measuring tapes, or even discrepancies between different measuring tapes may all contribute to improper measurement documentation.

2: oriental rugs and tufted carpets may continue to shrink during transportation from rug producing countries.  That is to say, should a rug be measured overseas pre-washing.  It is not uncommon for a rug to shrink sometimes upwards of 3-5% of it's pre-wash length and width.  Other instances of shrinkage may occur even with post washing measurement: With high pressure to import rugs as soon as possible, while rare, it has been known for some rugs to be shipped with very low levels of moisture remaining from the wash, and may continue to shrink while in it's travels. 

3: Hard rolling techniques used to make rugs more compact during shipping or storing may tighten the rug more on one side than the other.  This can contribute not only to discrepancies in size, but also may contribute to a temporarily distorted rug shape. 


What can be done about this?

Here are some examples of what may be done to alleviate some of the most common problems.

Ideally, every rug would be measured individually prior to sale. However, not all importers inspect goods after receiving them.  Some rugs such as hand tufted pieces are inexpensive: giant departments stores, home improvement centers and wholesalers make money off of volume with these rugs. Each time a rug is touched by a porter or receiver, costs go up.  The general rationale behind some of these high volume dealers is to leave measurements up to those of whom produce the rugs.

However, those of whom do take the time to open each bale for inspection post importation are ahead of the game.  The reason for this is because they're often checking for other things as well, which would include general quality control, correcting poor rolling practice overseas, or “loosened/coned” rolls from shifting in shipping containers. This would be the optimal time to check sizes and make corrections within inventory systems and other. 


Additional facts and other problems in detail:

Perhaps a great self correcting measure here include carriers such as UPS and FedEx. Strict guidelines including length, girth and weight are used to calculate final shipping costs to any given destination. However, there are instances when literally 1” additional length may make the difference of $80+ shipping cost for one rug!  Additional costs for exporters should translate to additional pressure on producers, otherwise it's a cost push to consumers. Especially given the size and weight of these rugs, rising fuel and transportation costs, this is perhaps the most promising element to enforcing the need for true "exact" sizes.

With the above under consideration, after all is said and done, pressure to roll these rugs with a flat end on each side of a tufted rug can not only distort an otherwise square rug, but also contribute to the previously mentioned size discrepancies. The industry of tufted rugs is based on a hand made item, “organic” in nature, which is very pliable and reactive to ways in which they are rolled or otherwise handled.

It’s a self correcting market. That is to say, it’s to the importers benefit to be more forthcoming with exact dimensions of any rug when advertising or programming goods. Again, the best way to do this would be measuring after importing, however this is not always a sure fire exact measurement, and simply cannot be done by all.

Conversely, receiving a shipment for some importers is an opportunity to recover merchandise costs by measuring discrepancies. The smaller the rug is than expected, the more leverage an importer has with the producer. For some, it’s very easy to put pressure on producers by saying “you’re short a total of xx square feet in this shipment,” or mentioning “an additional inch on the width could mean $80 difference in shipping costs.” This is the incentive for both distributor and wholesaler. As for the producers, it’s in their best interest to fill every square inch of an 8x10 rug, yet knowing they will not be compensated additionally for going over sizes should ensure an economic mean to landing within an acceptable size range once a rug has "settled."


In conclusion

It’s an imperfect trade, and I myself am not particularly fond of the idea for an intervention in handmade rugs, particularly Orientals. It’s my position if sizes need to be exact, they would be made by machines: which completely obliterates the concept behind true artisan craftsmanship...

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