• Clint Engel

August furniture store sales climb 5.4%

Home furnishings store sales top the broad retail sector

WASHINGTON — Furniture and home furnishings stores sales last month topped the broad retail sector and were among the best performing categories, with a 5.4% increase over the same month last year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce report.

Estimated furniture and home furnishings store sales totaled $9.63 billion in August, up from a revised $9.12 billion in August 2016, the government reported today. Sales were up 0.4% from the month before — based on a July sales estimate that was revised down to $9.59 billion.

From June through August, home furnishings store sales were up 4.6% from the same three months last year and increased 0.8% from the March-through-May period of this year.

David Montiel, director of originations at White Oak Commercial Finance in Charlotte, N.C., which provides factoring services to the furniture industry, said the month-over-month and year-over-year increases in August mesh with what the company’s clients are experiencing “due to the strong housing market and overall economy.”

“Most of our clients realized high single-digit or even double-digit growth for the month of August, which is generally known to be slower, as consumers favor spending money on travel/vacations as opposed to making furniture purchases,” Montiel said.

“We expect this growth to continue into the busier months of September and October with the caveat that Florida and Houston markets may impact performance.”

Total U.S. retail and food services sales increased 3.2% in August from the same month last year to $474.8 billion, but were down 0.2% from July. Retail sales alone increased 3.3% from a year ago and were down 0.3% from July. The largest gain continued to come from non-store retailers — primarily by e-commerce and catalog businesses with sales up 8.4% from August 2016 but down 1.1% from July.

Other sectors showing particularly strong growth included building material and garden and supplies stores (up 7.5% from August a year ago) and gasoline stations (up 6.4%), the report said.

Department stores, a sub-category of general merchandise stores, electronics and appliance stores and sporting goods, hobby, books and music stores were the only sectors losing ground year-over year. Electronics and appliance stores posted the steepest decrease, down 3.5% from August last year. Department stores were off 0.8% from a year ago and down 0.1% from last year.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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