WASHINGTON — Furniture retailers appear to have made just a little progress unloading heavy inventories last month.
Sales at U.S furniture and home furnishings stores increased 2.1% in July from the same month a year ago. That was well below the rate for all retail sectors combined and the increase for a stand-out e-commerce retailer sector, but furniture stores still avoided negative territory, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce report released Wednesday.
Furniture store sales for the month totaled $12.12 billion, up from $11.87 billion in July 2021. Sales edged up 0.2% from the June total, which was revised down to $12.10 billion from the previously reported $12.38 billion.
Combined retail and food services sales in July were an estimated $682.8 billion, up 10.3% from the same month a year ago and virtually flat from June. Retail trade sales alone increased 10.1% YOY and were flat with June.
By all indications, demand for furniture slowed more than most sectors, though the combined sectors percentage is skewed by the supersized increase for gas stations. The biggest exception would be electronics and appliance stores, which saw a 9.9% decrease in year-over-year sales in July. Also, department stores (a subcategory of general merchandise stores), were down 1.4% YOY. Auto and auto parts dealers were in the same boat with furniture retailers, posting a 2.1% YOY increase.
Non-store retailers, which included e-commerce and catalog retailers, saw double-digit year-over-year growth of 20.2%. The only sector to see a larger YOY gain was gas stations, up 39.9%. This was back before gas prices started moving back down later in the summer.
For the three-month period from May through July, sales for furniture and home furnishings stores inched up 1.7%, compared to a 9.2% increase for all retail and food sectors and 13.4% for non-store retailers. Appliance and electronics dealers were down 9.0%; department stores were off 1.1%; and auto and auto parts dealers were down 0.6%.