WASHINGTON — Sales at U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores increased 4.6% in June over the same month last year, according to the latest government report out this morning.
As was the case in May, the gain was well below the 8.4% increase for the combined retail and food services sectors and appeared to contradict many furniture store reports of a slowdown until you factor in inflation.
Furniture store sales for the month totaled $12.38 billion, up from $11.84 billion a year ago, according to the Department of Commerce report released this morning. Sales increased 1.4% from May sales, which were revised up to $12.21 billion, from the previously reported $12.18 billion.
The latest results again show how the consumer’s appetite for furniture is waning, at least in comparison to many other retail categories, including those they have little choice but to pay for, such as food and gasoline.
Combined retail and food services sales in June were $680.6 billion, up 8.4% from the same month a year ago and up 1.0% from May. Retail trade sales alone increased 7.7% YOY and were up 1.0% from April, the report said.
Most retail sectors again posted year-over-year increases and with a helping hand from inflation. Gas stations again led all sectors for a 49.1% YOY gain. Miscellaneous retail stores, which includes retailers such as florists, office supplies stores, gift shops and used goods sellers, had the next best increase, up 15.1% YOY. That sector was followed by restaurants and bars, up 13.4%.
Nonstore retailers — which includes e-commerce and catalog companies — posted a 9.6% YOY increase and were up 2.2% from May.
The biggest losers were electronics and appliance stores, down 9.1% YOY, followed by department stores (a subcategory of general merchandise stores), down 2.9%.
For the three months ended June 30, furniture and home furnishings store sales increased 2.8% from the same three months a year ago. All sectors combined saw an 8.1% gain. Non-store retailer sales increased 8.6% over the same three months last year.
Given countless reports of a consumer slowdown, it appears inflation is playing an outsized role in the retail sales numbers, including furniture sales. Earlier this week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the consumer price index jumped 9.1% in June from a year ago, for the fastest inflation pace since November 1981.