Furniture store sales inch up in April

WASHINGTON —  Sales at U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores rose less than 1% in April from the same month a year ago, providing new evidence that the consumer spending slowdown has arrived.

Furniture stores sales increased 0.8% to an estimated $12.17 billion from $12.07 billion in April a year ago, according to the Department of Commerce report released this morning. Sales increased 0.7% from March sales, which were revised down to $12.09 billion from the previously reported $12.86 billion.

The year-over-year increase was among the smallest of all retail segments covered in the government report (and was likely driven more by inflation than foot traffic), although a few sectors moved into negative territory.

Combined retail and food services sales in April were $677.7 billion, up 8.2% from the same month a year ago and up 0.9% from March. Retail trade sales alone increased 6.7% YOY and were up 0.7% from March, the report said.

Most retail sectors posted YOY sales gains in April, but again, they were led by gas stations, where consumers have faced the steepest price increases with little relief in sight. Gas station sales increased 36.9% YOY. Restaurants and bars had the next greatest gain, up 19.8%, followed by the miscellaneous store category, up 18.6%.

The same three sectors in negative territory in March slipped again in April, led this time by sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, electronics and appliance stores, down 5.4% YOY. Sales at electronics and appliance stores were down 5.2% and motor vehicle and parts dealers posted a 1.7% decrease.

Nonstore retailers — which includes e-commerce and catalog companies — rebounded with a 12.7% YOY increase in April and a 2.1% increase from March.

For the three-month period ending in April, furniture and home furnishings store sales were up 2.8% from the same period a year ago. All sectors combined saw a 10.8% gain, and the increase for nonstore retailers was 10.6%.

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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