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Consumer spending on furniture and TVs falls in Q1

 22 June 2020     Michael J. Knell 

OTTAWA – Consumer spending on big ticket home goods, particularly indoor furniture, decorative home furnishings and televisions, took a hit in the first quarter of 2020, the latest data from Statistics Canada’s Retail Commodity Survey (RCS) reveals. However, spending on mattresses and major appliances was essentially flat on a year-over-year basis.

The RCS covers spending by Canadian consumers in brick-and-mortar stores only and is reported on an actual (not seasonally adjusted) basis. Commodity spending via e-commerce, particularly for big ticket home goods, is tracked separately. The last year for which e-commerce commodity sales data is available is 2017; data for 2018 should be published sometime this year.

The national bean counter reported spending on indoor furniture – in industry parlance upholstery and case goods, including juvenile furniture – totalled $1.54 billion for the first three months of 2020, a decline of 6.0% from $1.69 billion for the January to March period last year.

Consumer spending on mattresses was pegged at a preliminary $412.1 million in the first quarter, a slip of 0.6% from the $414.5 million for same period last year.

It should be noted with mattress sales of $122.0 million, Sleep Country Canada Holdings had a market share of 29.6% in the first quarter – a full percentage point higher than the 28.6% share it held during the corresponding 2019 period with sales of $118.7 million. This including sales by all three of its retail banners – Sleep Country, Dormez-Vous and Endy, its e-commerce arm.

The RCS also reports spending on decorative home furnishings - which covers products such as area rungs, lamps, lighting, wall art and other accent pieces. For this quarter, consumers laid out $560.8 million, down 7.3% from $605.0 million for the opening three months last year.

Canadians continued to buy major appliances in the first quarter, spending $1.25 billion on equipment for their kitchens and laundry rooms for the opening three months of 2020, essentially unchanged from the $1.26 billion they spent in the same period a year ago.

However, they did spend decidedly less on televisions and audio-visual equipment – $779.0 million, down 13.9% from $904.9 million last year.

It should be noted the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020. Four days later, with the encourage and support of the federal government, provincial governments and health authorities began the temporary closure of huge segments of the Canadian economy. The industry should get a better understanding of how the crisis has impacted consumer spending in big ticket home goods in the early days of the shutdown when the next RCS quarterly summary is published, probably in August or September.

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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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