Furniture retail sales fell 6.4% in May

Overall retail sales rose 1.6% with increases in restaurants and bars, health and beauty stores and e-commerce platforms

WASHINGTON — Year-over-year furniture retail store sales fell 6.4% in May, making it one of the worst performing sectors in the U.S. government’s tracking of retail sales data and marking an ongoing losing streak the segment has experienced since February.

Only gasoline stations fared worse in the survey, down 20.5% from May 2022, although electronics and appliance store sales were down by 5%, a close third.

Overall, furniture and home furnishings store sales fell to $11.2 billion, from $11.9 billion in May 2022. The decline suggests that Memorial Day sales overall faltered, despite some glowing reviews of the holiday weekend that traditionally kicks off the summer season.

Overall retail sales across various segments rose 1.6% in May, to $686.6 billion, from $675.7 billion in May 2022.

Gasoline sales fell 20.5%, to $53.1 billion, from $66.7 billion, while electronics and appliance store sales fell 5% to $7.6 billion, from $8 billion in May 2022.

The segment with the highest percentage gain, as expected, was restaurants and bars. There, sales rose 8% to $88 billion from $81.5 billion a year earlier. It was followed by health and personal care stores, where sales rose 7.8% to $35.5 billion, from $32.9 billion last year and non-store retailers including e-commerce sites and catalogs, where sales rose 6.5% to $112.2 billion from $105.4 billion.

The segments with the next largest increase was miscellaneous store retailers, where sales rose 4.5% to $15.4 billion, from $14.7 billion; motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 4.4% to $132 billion from $126.5 billion; general merchandise stores, including department stores, up 2% to $72.6 billion, from $71.2 billion; and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, up 1.2% to $8.6 billion, from $8.5 billion in May 2022.

Meanwhile, building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down .9% to $42.5 billion, from $42.9 billion, and clothing and clothing accessories stores were down .2% to $25.6 billion from $25.7 billion in May 2022.

On a positive note, the 6.5% increase at non-store retailers may indicate an increase in furniture sales through e-commerce platforms and catalogs. The increase in general merchandise stores also could reflect some furniture sales.

The numbers in the furniture segment also appear to be higher than pre-pandemic levels based on a quick look at historical sales data for the month of May. For instance, according to seasonally adjusted sales figures in the DOC database, furniture and home furnishings store sales were just over $10 billion and $9.9 billion for 2019 and 2018 respectively.

But as the latest numbers indicate, other retail segments continue to outpace furniture store sales, not just in percentage gains, but also overall dollars.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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