Furniture store sales jump 16% in November

How much of the gain is due to inflation remains the unanswered question in the latest government report.

WASHINGTON — U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores posted a 16.3% increase in November sales over the same month a year ago as demand and, most likely, inflation continued to propel sales numbers.

According to the latest Department of Commerce report, sales for the sector reached an estimated $12.45 billion for the month, up from $10.71 billion in November 2020, long after the lockdown ended and demand began to surge. Furniture stores have now gone 18 months — a year and a half — with consecutive YOY comp increases.

Sales for the sector were flat from October’s estimate, but only after the government made a big revision upward for the month to $12.45 billion from the previous estimate of $12.15 billion.

Combined retail and food services sales in November again outpaced the furniture sector’s gain, increasing 18.2% from November a year ago to $639.8 billion and were up 0.3% from the revised sales estimate for October. Retail trade sales alone increased 16.1% year-over-year and were up 0.2% from October.

Strip out some of the sectors hardest hit by the lingering pandemic and, perhaps, facing even more inflationary pressure than furniture, and we see the YOY sales gain for furniture stores rising closer to the top of the pack. The sectors posting the greatest YOY gains for the month were gas stations, with a 52.3% increase, followed by restaurants and bars, up 37.4%.

Clothing and accessories stores saw a 34.8% YOY gain in November, while department stores, a subset of general merchandise stores, continued to rebound off the bottom of the list with a 24.9% increase.

Nonstore retailers, primarily e-commerce but also catalog companies, posted a 12.1% YOY gain in November and, like furniture stores, were flat with October sales.

The YOY laggards this past month still managed single-digit increases. The smallest increase went to health and personal care stores, with sales up 7.2%.

For a three-month period ending in November, furniture and home furnishings store sales rose 14.2% over the same period a year ago. The combined retail and food services sector saw a 16.2% increase and nonstore retailers’ sales increased 10.8%.

While the YOY increases keep coming, furniture retailers are beginning to suggest the gains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and that demand may be slowing. For more, see our report here.

Clint Engel

Clint Engel is a veteran home furnishings industry journalist and executive editor of Home News Now. Please share your feedback with him at

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