January furniture store sales fall 9.8% from last year

Segment posted a 1.5% gain from December, a trend many hope will continue into the months ahead

WASHINGTON — Furniture store sales fell 9.8% during the month of January compared to the same month last year, as consumers continued to pull back from high-ticket purchases.

The segment was the worst performing on the U.S. government’s monthly retail report issued Thursday, marking a dismal start to the new year, despite a 1.5% gain from the month of December.

Furniture store sales totaled $11.1 billion in January, compared to $12.3 billion in January 2023 and $10.9 billion in November. Overall retail sales totaled $700.3 billion, up .6% from $695.8 billion in January 2023 but down .8% from $706.2 billion in December.

Other sectors that saw year-over-year declines were building material and garden supplies dealers, down 8.3%, to $39.7 billion, from $43.2 billion; gasoline stations, down 7.5% to $52.4 billion, from $56.7 billion; electronics and appliance stores, down 5.8% to $7.3 billion, from $7.8 billion; sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores, down 3.2% to $8.5 billion, from $8.8 billion; miscellaneous store retailers such as pet supply stores, religious supply stores and florists, down 2.7% to $15.2 billion, from $15.6 billion; and motor vehicle and parts dealers, down 1.6% to $132.4 billion, from $134.6 billion.

Sectors that saw an increase included non-store retailers, including pure-play e-commerce sites and catalogs, which rose 6.4% to $118.4 billion, from $111.2 billion; restaurants and bars, up 6.3% to $95.1 billion, from $89.5 billion; health and beauty stores, up 5%, to $36.5 billion, from $34.7 billion; food and beverage stores, up 1.9% to $83.3 billion, from $81.7 billion and general merchandise stores, .9% to $73.9 billion, from $73.3 billion despite a 6.7% decline at department stores, a subcategory of general merchandise stores.

In January, clothing and clothing accessories stores also posted a .5% gain, with sales of $26.5 billion, compared to $26.4 billion in January 2023.

On a positive note, January furniture store sales were still above pre-pandemic levels, based on numbers in the Department of Commerce database. For example, the January sales of $11.1 billion compare to $10.4 billion in January 2020, $9.8 billion in January 2019 and $9.8 billion in January 2018.

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 tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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