February furniture store sales down 10.1% from last year

Sector continues to struggle as consumers delay large-ticket purchases

WASHINGTON — Furniture store sales fell more than 10% in February compared to the same month last year, a sign of the ongoing weakness in the sector as consumers continue to pull back on big-ticket purchases.

February sales, which typically benefit from a bump in President’s Day promotions, were down 10.1% to $10.6 billion, from $11.8 billion in February 2023 and were down 1.1% from $10.7 billion in January.

This made it by far the worst performing retail and food services sector tracked in the government’s monthly report. By comparison, overall retail sales rose 1.5% in February to $700.7 billion, compared to $690.4 billion in February 2023, and were up .6% from $696.7 billion in January.

Other sectors with a decrease were building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, down 6.1% to $40.4 billion, from $43 billion; gasoline stations, down 4.5% to $53 billion, from $55.5 billion; and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores, down 3% to $8.5 billion, from $8.7 billion.

The segments with the largest increases compared to February 2023 were non-store retailers including pure-play e-commerce sites and catalogs, up 6.4% to $118.8 billion, from $111.7 billion; restaurants and bars, up 6.3% to $93.3 billion, from $87.8 billion; miscellaneous store retailers such as pet stores, florists and religious supply stores, up 3.2% to $15.8 billion from $15.3 billion; electronics and appliance stores, up 1.9% to $7.8 billion, from $7.6 billion; health and personal care stores, up 1.7% to $36 billion, from $35.4 billion; motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 1.4% to $133.9 billion, from $132.1 billion; clothing and clothing accessories stores, up 1.3% to $26.3 billion, from $25.9 billion; general merchandise stores, up .7% to  $73.8 billion, from $73.2 billion (but held back by a 4.4% decline from department stores such as Macy’s); and food and beverage stores, up .4% to $82.6 billion, from $82.2 billion.

With a 1.1% decline from January, furniture stores had the worst performing month-over-month performance of all the sectors tracked by the government. Other segments with declines were less, including clothing and clothing accessories stores, down .5%; health and personal care stores, down .3%; and non-store retailers, down .1%. Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores were flat.

Other sectors had minimal monthly increases from January ranging from restaurants and bars and general merchandise stores, each up .4%, to motor vehicle and parts dealers up 1.6% and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, up 2.2%.

On a positive note, year-over-year February furniture store sales are still trending up from where they were in the several years before the pandemic. The $10.6 billion last month compares to $9.8 billion in 2019, $9.85 billion in 2018, $9.5 billion in 2017, $9.3 billion in 2016 and $8.5 billion in 2015.

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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