New furniture orders have been down six of the last seven months, according to research analyst firm Smith Leonard, which noted orders were also down 2% compared to the same period a year ago. Shipments were off 6% in August compared to August 2018, and down 1% for the year to date, according to Ken Smith. Backlogs were 3% higher than August a year ago.

While tariffs and the economy continue to have an impact on the residential furniture market, consumer confidence continues to be high, Smith noted. “We still think that more positive results from housing will help the furniture business,” he said, although “the worries about a recession continue to be out there.”

“Most say that it takes four to six months for the economy to realize we are in a recession. So maybe the furniture industry is in a recession and by the time we figure it out, the recession will be over. Let’s hope that theory is right, though that is just what it is – our positive hope,” he added.

Click to enlarge the infographic, plus find more market data in the December 2019 FDMC Wood Industry Almanac.

Quick Stats

Improvenet’s Furniture Shopping Survey looked at spending habits across 20 major cities to see where people spend the most on household furnishings. The study found 84% of Americans buy their furniture new, and 74% purchase furnishings in-person as opposed to buying online. For inspiration, 38% got it from in-store, and 30% from social media.

On retail purchases, the Valassis Awareness-to-Activation Study found offers, deals and promotions drive the selection of a furniture or mattress retailer for 91% of consumers; this is even higher for millennial parents and millennials (96% and 95%, respectively). Sixty-one percent said an advertisement both in print and digital can motivate them to shop at a new store or website. Additionally, one-third said they intend to purchase furniture within the year.

Casegoods accounted for 42% of the $111.4 billion U.S. furniture and bedding sales in 2018. Upholstered furniture was 34%, and bedding was 16%, with the remaining 8% made up of infant furniture, curios, bar carts, drink tables, etageres, poufs, ottomans not sold with chairs, accent chests, pedestals, and benches. Information sourced: PBM Strategic Insights, 2018 Furniture Today Planning Guide (Furniture Today 2019 Fall Economic Roundup).

Outdoors is the new indoors, with the growing popularity of these spaces helping to spur sales of chairs, tables and other casual furniture suitable to the environment. A recent survey conducted on behalf of the International Casual Furnishings Assn. and American Home Furnishings Alliance by Wakefield Research found 56% of U.S. households planned to purchase furnishings for their outdoor space this year. Top on the list: dining sets, lounge chairs, lighting and fire pits.

According to a recent Houzz study, more than half of residential renovation and design companies cite a positive outlook for 2019. The majority of companies among six of the seven industry groups expect profits to increase in 2019 (63 to 70%) and revenue growth in the upper single digits (8 to 9%).

Market Data Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Statista, U.S. International Trade Administration, Statistics Canada (StatCan), Valassis, Smith Leonard, American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), International Casual Furnishings Assn., Mann, Armistead & Epperson Ltd., PBM Strategic Insights/Furniture Today, Improvenet, Houzz

Category: Residential furniture includes: wood & upholstered furniture, casegoods, RTA, bedroom & youth, entertainment units.

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