Also known as consumables or nondurable goods, soft goods are any products that are expected to have a life span of less than three years. This is in contrast to durable goods that are anticipated to remain useful for any amount of time over three years. Both soft and durable goods are essential components in the economy of most nations, and routinely purchased by consumers on an ongoing basis.
One of the best examples of soft goods is clothing. While it is true that some articles of clothing may last for longer than three years, most manufacturers do not guarantee the garments for more than a year or so, assuming that the clothing undergoes normal wear and tear. Consumables of this type require replacement from time to time, either due to changes in consumer taste, changes in the body type of the owner, or because a favorite garment is worn until it begins to show signs of age.
Other forms of textiles are also anticipated to last no more than three years. Bedclothes, especially sheet sets, are normally not expected to last for longer. Table cloths, napkins, towels, and many types of draperies and curtains are generally classed as soft.
Clothing accessories are sometimes considered soft goods. Shoes, boots, and other forms of footwear are rarely manufactured with the idea of lasting more than three years. The same is true with gloves, scarves, baseball caps, and other items that are usually selected to accentuate the selection of clothing.
Any type of product that is consumed in a short period of time can be rightly considered soft goods. Office supplies are an excellent example. Paper products like copy paper, file folders, and notepads are consumed regularly and must be replaced. Markers, pens, and materials used to create visual aids are also often consumed within the course of a few months to a year. Rubber products, such as elastic bands are classified as soft goods, since they do tend to break after several rounds of use over the years.
Personal products represent another type of soft goods. All forms of cosmetics are considered consumables, along with products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and any personal hygiene products. Lotions or creams used for skin care or body cleansing are also considered soft or nondurable goods.
There are many other types of soft goods that are in use on a daily basis. Small household appliances like toasters, hair dryers, and other items that are utilized at least several times a week rarely carry a warranty that is more than a couple of years. Petroleum products, such as gasoline or oil, are consumables. Essentially, if the product is manufactured with the understanding that it has a limited shelf life of less than three years, it can be classified as a nondurable good.