Furniture sales inch forward in April | Dept. of Commerce

WASHINGTON — Furniture and home furnishings sales grew modestly in April, reflecting the overall retail picture, according to advance estimates from the Department of Commerce. But even with slow growth, those numbers remain ahead of 2021’s pace.

For the month, furniture and home furnishings stores recorded an adjusted $12.173 billion in sales, up 0.7% from March’s $12.094 billion. That figure is also 0.8% ahead of April 2021’s $12.072 billion.

The overall retail and food services sector posted $677.711 billion in April, up 0.9% from March’s $671.648 billion. However, where furniture and home furnishings sales were up only slightly year-over-year, the overall retail picture is well ahead of 2021’s pace, posting an 8.2% gain from $626.430 billion last year.

Categories that outpaced the overall snapshot in April included miscellaneous store retailers (up 4%), motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 2.2%), non-store retailers (2.1%), food services and drinking places (2%) and electronics and appliance stores (1%). Meanwhile, gas stations took the biggest hit (down 2.7%), while sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores (down 0.5%), food and beverage stores (down 0.2%) and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (down 0.1%) also showed declines.

“The April 2022 Census Bureau Monthly Retail report shows that spending on home furnishings has slowed, but the category is still doing very well,” noted Chip West, a retail and consumer behavior expert at Vericast, a data intelligence and marketing services company. “Last year, people were spending more time at home, so they invested more money in home furnishings and home improvement. Now consumers have more options and are starting to spend more on other categories focused on experiences, like travel, entertainment, and restaurants.

“That said, we’re still seeing a trend of people making their outdoor spaces an oasis, with outdoor bars being one of the most popular outdoor furniture purchases of late. With supply chain issues lessening this year compared to last in the furniture category, there has been more outdoor inventory available for consumers, although retailers are encouraging them to shop early for the best selections.

“In order for furniture retailers to stay competitive against other spending options, they will need to promote value and offer great deals. Consumers care about things like great quality and fast shipping and will go where the best price, value, and availability is.”

The DOC’s advance estimates are based on a sub-sample of the U.S. Census Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is used to select approximately 5,500 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of more than 3 million retail and food services firms.

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