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Consumer spending on big-ticket crashes in April

 20 July 2020     Michael J. Knell 

OTTAWA – Preliminary data from Statistics Canada shows consumer spending in brick-and-mortar stores on furniture, mattresses, decorative home furnishings, major appliances and televisions took a nose dive in April as retailers large and small were forced to close by health authorities across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The only category that saw sales growth was outdoor furniture, perhaps not all that surprising a development.

The agency’s Retail Commodity Survey estimated mattress sales at an almost unknown $44.1 million in April – a 73% drop from the $163.8 million sold in April 2019. Sales fell in each of first four months of the year. April’s decline was preceded by a 26.8% drop in March.

Sales for the first four months of the year were $456.8 million, down roughly 25% from $608.3 million for the same period last year.

Meanwhile, furniture sales for April were pegged at $239.5 million, a new record low and down 60% from the $598.5 million in April 2019.

Spending for the year-to-date was $1.82 billion, down 20.4% from the $2.28 billion for 2019’s comparable period.

The bright spot was outdoor furniture where consumer spending was $140.0 million, up 38.5% from $101.1 million in April 2019.

Consumer spending on decorative home furnishings – which ranges from floor coverings to lamps, lighting, wall art and other accessories – was estimated at $129.1 million in April, compared to $252.5 million a year ago for a drop of 48.9%.

For the year-to-date, sales in this category were $680.9 million, down 20.6% from last year’s $857.5 million.

Spending on major appliances was estimated at $308.9 million compared to $487.6 million in April 2019 – a drop of 36.4%. For the four months ending in April, spending was pegged at $1.57 billion, about 10.2% less than the $1.74 billion spent last year.

The remaining big-ticket commodity is televisions and audio-visual equipment, where spending was estimated at $264.6 million for April 2020. This was off 10.6% from the $295.9 million spent in April last year. For the year-to-date, the total was $1.05 billion, a 12.7% decline from the comparable period’s $1.20 billion.

The Retail Commodity Survey excludes e-commerce activity and only measures the value of consumer purchases made in each category, regardless of what type or kind of brick-and-mortar stores they bought in.

Stearns and Foster
This HGO article was written by:
Michael J. Knell
Michael J. Knell

Michael is the publisher and editor of Home Goods Online. A seasoned business journalist, he has researched and written about the furniture, mattress and major appliance industries in both Canada and the United States for the past three decades.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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