Despite the drop, sales activity is still hovering above pre-pandemic levels, including in August 2020 after stores had reopened and demand for furniture started to rise
WASHINGTON — August furniture store sales fell 7.8% compared to August 2022, continuing a slide since the beginning of the year that many are hoping reverses in the coming months.
The furniture store year-over-year decrease made it the second worst performing retail sector tracked by the U.S. government, falling only behind gasoline sales, which fell 10.3%.
Brick-and-mortar store sales totaled $10.9 billion, down from $11.9 billion in August 2022. They also fell 1% from the $11.04 billion reported in July.
Overall August retail sales were up 2.5%, to $697.6 billion, compared to $680.7 billion a year ago.
Other sectors that experienced declines were building materials and garden supplies dealers, where sales fell 4.9% to $41.5 billion from $43.7 billion; electronics and appliance stores, where sales fell 1.8% to $7.7 billion, from $7.9 billion; and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, where sales fell 1.4% to $8.6 billion from $8.7 billion.
Miscellaneous store retailers such as artist supplies stores, pet stores and religious merchandise stores, posted a .4% drop, to $15.18 billion, from $15.24 billion.
The slide in furniture store sales aligns with reports of an ongoing slowdown, as the industry has competed against other segments such as travel and entertainment, including dining out and concerts, for example.
As expected, restaurants and bars were the best performing of all sectors, with August sales rising 8.5% to $90.8 billion in August, from $83.7 billion in August 2022.
It was followed by health and personal care stores, which posted a 7.8% gain, with sales rising to $36.2 billion from $33.6 billion; non-store retailers, which include e-commerce and catalog sales, where sales rose 7.2% to $116.1 billion, from $108.3 billion, and motor vehicle and parts dealers, which posted a 4.4% gain, to $133.5 billion, from $127.9 billion.
Other sectors with increases included food and beverage stores, up 2.1% to $82.3 billion, from $80.6 billion, and general merchandise stores, including department stores, which were up 2% to $73.2 billion from $71.8 billion.
Some bright news for furniture stores is that sales are still above pre-pandemic levels. According to the government database, the $10.9 billion in sales reported for the month of August was above the $10.1 billion reported in August 2019 and also above the $9.8 billion reported in August 2018.
They also were slightly above the $10.6 billion reported in August 2020. This was a few months after stores had finally reopened after the pandemic-related shutdowns that spring and when demand was starting to reach record levels as more consumers were staying at home and starting to spend more on home furnishings.