Hard goods are those that do not wear out quickly and instead provide use over a long period of time, rather than being consumed in just one use. Soft goods are either taken up in one use or have a life span of less than three years.
Examples of hard goods include bricks and lumber, but they also include automobiles, cell phones and dishwashers. Some of the more popular examples of durable goods for consumers include furniture, firearms, toys, sporting goods and home appliances.
Examples of soft goods include cosmetics, food, cigarettes, medicines, cleaning supplies, office supplies, containers, paper products, plastics, rubber, clothing, textiles and footwear.
Many retailers specialize in hard goods, such as Best Buy, which offers a wide variety of computers, consumer electronics, mobile services and products, and appliances. Even though some of these products have gone through a lot of changes, hard goods are wise investments for the long haul because of their enduring popularity. Fine jewelry and gift retailers such as Tiffany & Company also have long-term value.
The soft goods retail segment also has a number of companies that specialize in it. Companies like Men's Wearhouse, selling off-price men's business suits, and the suite of companies that includes The Gap, are two of the more popular examples.