January furniture store sales up 2.7% YOY

January sales for U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.7% as consumers’ appetite for the industry’s products appears to be slowing, at least in relation to other retail sectors.

Estimated furniture sales increased to an estimated $12.43 billion, up from $12.10 billion in January 2020, according to the latest Department of Commerce report. Sales were up 7.2% from December 2020 sales, which the government revised down to $11.60 billion from the previous $11.80 billion estimate.

The latest report sends mixed signals about the furniture sector. On one hand, the year-over-year increase of 2.7% was one of the weakest gains of any retail sector tracked, and it was well below the 13% YOY increase for all retail and food service sectors combined. On the other hand, the industry’s 7.2% increase over December was among the highest sector increases, topped by only non-store retailers, up 14.5%, and department stores (a subset of general merchandise stores), up 9.2%.

Combined retail and food services sales in January were $649.8 billion, DOC said, up 13% from the same month a year ago and up 3.8% from December. Retail trade sales alone increased 11.4% YOY and were up 4.4% from December — sort of the reverse of what happened in the furniture sector, a big YOY gain but a low single-digit gain over the previous month.

The latest industry results could be seen as more confirmation of what furniture retailers have been saying for some time now. Last year was a record year. Part of this had to do with inflation. Now consumer demand and inflation are battling it out, and inflation appears to be getting the upper hand, lifting sales a bit, but putting a curb on traffic.

More from the January report:

The top YOY gainer was gasoline stations, up 33.4%, another indication that this has a lot to do with inflation. Next was restaurants and bars (coming back from Covid restrictions), up 27% YOY, and then clothing and clothing  accessories stores, up 21.9%. 

The only sector in negative territory compared to January last year was the seller of those other big-ticket home items — electronics and appliance stores, down 2.9% from January 2021.

Sales for non-store retailers — primarily e-commerce companies but also catalog retailers — were up 8.4% YOY.

For a three-month period ending in January, furniture and home furnishings store sales were up 9.3% from the same period a year ago. All sectors combined saw a 16.1% gain, and the increase for non-store retailers was 10.5%.

Clint Engel

Engel has covered furniture retail news — with an emphasis on Top 100 companies — for more than 28 years. He spent nearly all of that time as retail editor and then senior retail editor at Furniture Today before founding Home News Now with Publisher Rick Harrison and has become a go-to resource for information and insight on the retail trends and events that shape this business.

View all posts by Clint Engel →

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