Sector continues to falter amid competition from other segments including health and beauty stores and restaurants
WASHINGTON — Furniture store sales fell nearly 12% in October compared to October of last year, continuing a downward slide that leaves the industry hoping for a turnaround heading into 2024.
The segment also was the worst performing of those tracked by the U.S. Government, with gasoline stations posting the next highest decrease at 7.8%.
Overall retail sales rose 2.5% in October, to $704.9 billion, from $687.9 billion in October 2022. They were down .1% from the $705.7 billion posted in September and up 3.1% year to date.
Furniture store sales totaled $10.6 billion in October, down 11.8% from $12.04 billion in October 2022. They also were down 2% from the $10.8 billion reported in September and down 5.2% year to date.
Other sectors where sales faltered from October 2022 included gasoline stations, down 7.5% to $56.6 billion in October, from $61.2 billion in October 2022; building material and garden equipment supply stores, down 5.6% to $41.4 billion from $43.9 billion in October 2022; department stores, down 4.1% to $10.9 billion from $11.4 billion in October 2022; and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, down 3.8% to $8.4 billion from $8.8 billion in October 2022.
Health and personal care stores had the largest increase at 9.6% to $37.1 billion, from $33.9 billion in October 2022, followed by restaurants and bars, up 8.6% to $92.9 billion, from $85.5 billion in October 2022.
E-commerce platforms and catalogs posted a 7.6% increase to $118 billion, from $109.7 billion in October 2022, followed by motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 3.3% to $134 billion from $129.7 billion in October 2022 and miscellaneous store retailers including pet stores, florists and religious goods stores, which were up 1.2% to $15.3 billion from $15.1 billion in October 2022.
Meanwhile, food and beverage stores were up 1% to $83 billion, from $82.2 billion last October; electronics and appliance stores were up .9% to $7.9 billion, from $7.8 billion in October 2022; and clothing and clothing accessories stores were up .8% to $26.1 billion in October from $25.9 billion last October.
Year to date, furniture stores only trailed gasoline stations, whose sales are down 11.8% for the first 10 months of the year. Building material and garden equipment and supply stores were down 2.8%, department stores are down 2.3%, and electronics and appliance stores are down 1.7%.
Restaurants and bars are up 11.5% year to date, followed by health and personal care stores, up 8.2%; e-commerce platforms and catalog businesses, up 8.1%; motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 3.8%; food and beverage stores, up 2.8%; miscellaneous store retailers, up 2.3%; clothing and clothing accessories stores, up 1.3%; and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, up .3%.
On a positive note, October furniture store sales ($10.62 billion), while down from October 2022 ($12.04 billion) and October 2021 ($11.8 billion), were up from the past few prior years: They totaled $10.59 billion in October 2020, $10.1 billion in October 2019 and $9.9 billion in October 2018.
This suggests that furniture remains in relatively high demand as consumers look to furnish their homes with products they select and purchase more judiciously versus buying whatever they could find during supply chain disruptions at the height of the pandemic.