Furniture store sales fall 6.1% in March compared to last year

Decline narrows from 10.1% year-over-year decline in February

WASHINGTON — Furniture store sales fell 6.1% in March compared to March 2023, once again representing one of the most challenged retail sectors tracked by the U.S. government, even though the percentage drop was less than the 10.1% year-over-year decrease in February.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly survey, furniture store sales totaled $10.7 billion in March, down from $11.4 billion in March 2023. By comparison, overall retail sales rose 4% to $709.6 billion, from $682.2 billion in March 2023. Overall retail sales rose .7% from February, compared to a .3% decline for the furniture segment over the same period.

Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstore sales posted the next largest drop year over year, with a 3.9% decline to $8.4 billion in March, compared with $8.7 billion in March 2023.

Gasoline stations posted a .7% decrease in sales, to $54.6 billion from $55 billion, while electronics and appliance stores and building materials and garden equipment supplies dealers each posted a .6% drop year over year. Electronics and appliance store sales fell to $7.6 billion from $7.7 billion and building material & garden equipment and supplies dealer sales totaled $40.9 billion, from $41.1 billion in March 2023.

Other sectors all posted a year-over-year increase, led by nonstore retailers, including pure-play e-commerce businesses and catalog businesses (up 11.3% to $16.1 billion, from $15.2 billion); restaurants and bars (up 6.5% to $93.7 billion, from $88 billion); miscellaneous store retailers such as pet stores, florists and religious merchandise stores (up 6.1% to $16.1 billion, from $15.2 billion); general merchandise stores (up 5.7% to $75.2 billion, from $71.2 billion — note the category also includes department stores, where sales were down 2.5% year over year); motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 2.8% to $134.1 billion, from $130.4 billion); health and beauty stores (up 2.3%, to $36.2 billion, from $35.4 billion); clothing and clothing accessories stores (up 1.4% to $26 billion, from $25.7 billion); and food and beverage stores (also up 1.4% to $83 billion, from $81.9 billion).

The figures show where many consumers are spending their money, including on some necessities versus what they view as a purchase that can be postponed such as furniture. They also show where there is opportunity to gain a larger share of consumers’ disposable income in the coming months.

While furniture sales were down from the previous year, they were still above pre-pandemic levels of $9.9 billion in March 2019, $9.86 billion in 2018, $9.6 billion in 2017, $9.2 billion in 2016 and $8.8 billion in 2015. And in March 2014, they were $8.2 billion, down $2.5 billion from the $10.7 billion reported last month.

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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