Furniture remains a key driver of revenues at Big Lots

Large-ticket sofas, sectionals, beds, mattresses and more keep segment strong relative to smaller-ticket items

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Lots’ latest investor presentation highlighting its recently released Q4 results once again highlights the importance that furniture plays on its floor. It also shows a surprising resilience to the category when compared to other major segments of its business.

According  to the presentation, furniture and mattresses represented 23% of volume, the largest segment of its business, or $329.4 million of its estimated $1.4 billion in sales for the quarter ended Feb 3.  This was followed by food, 19%; soft home, including rugs, bedding, pillows, towels and other home textiles 17%, seasonal (lawn and garden, Christmas and other holiday departments), 15%; consumables (health, beauty and cosmetics; plastics; paper; and chemicals), 14%; and hard home, (small appliances, tabletop, food preparation, stationery, home maintenance, home organization and toys), 12%.

As the company’s full annual report has not been released, there was not a full-year comparison to gauge what furniture represents in terms of overall annual sales. However, the 23% figure is consistent with the 23.4% of volume the category represented for the full fiscal year 2022, although also down from the 27.4% of sales the segment represented in fiscal 2021, when demand for home furnishings also neared its peak industrywide.

Broyhill remains a core brand on the floor of Big Lots.

According to the Q4 investor presentation, demand for furniture also held up relatively well in relation to how other categories performed in Q3. With overall comp sales down 9%, furniture was only down 4%, compared to a 9% decrease in soft home, an 8% drop in food, a 14% drop in seasonal and a 17% drop in hard home.

Thus, some of the biggest ticket items in the entire store — furniture and bedding — have remained relatively stable compared to the other categories.

But overall challenges to the business remain as the collective decreases in demand in those other categories demonstrate. For the quarter, the company reported that overall net sales had fallen 7.2% to $1.4 billion, from $1.54 billion the same period in 2022. For the full year, overall sales were down 13.6%, to $4.7 billion from $5.5 billion last year.

During the quarter, the retailer had a net loss of $30.7 million, or $1.05 per share, compared to a net loss of $12.5 million, or 43 cents per share, the same period in 2022. For the full year, its net loss was $481.9 million, or $16.53 per share, compared to $210.7 million, or $7.30 per share in 2022.

Meanwhile, its gross margin rose to 38% of sales during the quarter compared to 36.3% of sales the same period last year. For the full year, it rose slightly, to 35.7% compared to 35% the year before.

In the Q4 investor presentation, President and CEO Bruce Thorn noted that the company delivered on its quarterly guidance for comparable sales, gross margin rate, operating expenses and inventory.

“We believe progress on the five key actions that underlie our strategy — which are to own bargains, communicate unmistakable value, increase store relevance, win customers for life with our omnichannel efforts and drive productivity — enabled us to deliver adjusted operating profit growth in Q4, marking the first quarter of adjusted operating profit in two years.

“Our efforts to aggressively manage costs, inventory and capital expenditures, as well as monetize owned assets, have enabled us to maintain liquidity through a challenging period. As we look into 2024, we continue to evaluate additional financing options as a normal part of prudently managing our business. While near-term conditions may remain challenging, we look forward to returning the company to health and prosperity, and we believe we are taking the right actions to do that.”

Of course much of the company’s success will continue to depend on the strength of its furniture sales. As interest rates continue to dampen the housing market, that could be a challenge over the short-term.

Still, the company’s dedication to the category also represents opportunity long-term, particularly with a value-oriented mix of product aimed square at the middle of the market, affording consumers another option to furnish their homes with on-trend looks available at competitively reasonable prices. How the segment continues to perform will be worth watching. But for now, it could be perceived one of the silver linings in an industry that’s been beleaguered with slow sales and foot traffic we can only hope will reverse itself soon.

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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