August furniture store sales slip 1.6% YOY, down 1.3% from July

WASHINGTON — Furniture and home furnishings store sales finally hit the wall last month, down 1.6% from August a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce report released this morning.

It was one of the worst performing retail sectors tracked by the government. The only other sector posting negative numbers was electronics and appliance stores, down 5.7% year over year.

Estimated furniture store sales totaled $11.78 billion in August, down from $11.97 billion a year ago. August sales also were down 1.3% from  the $11.94 billion in July. That’s even after the government revised the July estimate down from the previously reported $12.12 billion.

Nearly every other sector fared far better as bigger tickets caused by inflation weren’t enough to offset weakening demand for furniture. Combined retail and food services sales in August were an estimated $683.3 billion, up 9.1% from a year ago and up 0.3% from July. Retail trade sales alone increased 8.9% from August last year and were up 0.2% from July, according to the report.

The biggest gainer among the sectors that are broken out DOC was gas stations again, up 29.3% from August last year. But recent price decreases at the pump are starting to show, as sales were down 4.2% from July. Miscellaneous store retailers (think mail order houses, vending machine operators, home delivery sales and street vendors, for example) showed the next largest year-over-year gain, up 15.3%. Non-store retailers, which includes e-commerce players, was next with an 11.2% increase over August of 2021 (but down 0.7% from July).

After electronics and appliance stores and furniture and home furnishings stores, the next weakest category by sales was department stores, a subset of general merchandise stores, which eked out a 0.7 YOY increase.

For the three-month period from June through August, sales for furniture and home furnishings stores declined 0.1% from the same period last year and were off 2.2% from the March-through-May period. Appliance and electronics dealers were down 9.1% from a year ago, and department stores were off 0.7%. Non-store retailers saw a 12.7% increase.

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 clint@homenewsnow.com

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