Furniture, home furnishings store sales make gains in April
OTTAWA – Furniture store sales continued to make significant gains in year-over-year sales in April 2022, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada in its latest Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). Home furnishings stores also turned in a strong performance when compared to April last year although that of electronics and appliance stores was much more modest.
Most analysts were quick to point out the surges can be attributed to one factor: most of the country was in lockdown throughout April 2021 as part of the effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, merchants were forced to rely on e-commerce as customers weren’t allowed to visit their stores. But now that they can, brick-and-mortar stores are seeing a resurgence in both floor traffic and sales.
The national bean counter set furniture store sales at an actual and preliminary $1.17 billion for the month of April 2022, virtually unchanged from those rung-up in March. They were also up 23.4% over the $951.7 million in sales for April 2021.
While April’s advance from March sales was insignificant, it was the second consecutive month of improving sales, following February’s stumble.
For the first four months of 2022, furniture store sales totalled $4.36 billion, a 16.1% gain over the $3.76 billion for the comparable period last year.
Statistics Canada defines a furniture store as a retail establishment generating 51% or more of its annual revenue from the sale of furniture and mattresses.
It should be noted the MRTS tracks only sales made by what Statistics Canada refers to as ‘location based’ retail, that is, brick-and-mortar stores. These figures do not include sales by digital only furniture purveyors such as Rove Concepts or Article. But, adding to the confusion, they do include the e-commerce sales of all predominately brick-and-mortar merchants such as Brault & Martineau, Leon’s, The Brick and Sleep Country Canada.
Meanwhile, home furnishings stores – a catchall that includes flooring specialists, lighting stores as well as merchants focusing on accent, occasional furniture and decorative accessories – saw actual and preliminary sales drop 10.2% in April to $658.4 million from $732.9 million in March. However, they were 18.3% higher than the $579.6 million sold in April 2021.
For the year-to-date, home furnishings store sales tallied $2.56 billion compared to $2.26 billion for the comparable 2021 period – a gain of 13.4%.
Electronics and appliance stores continued to turn in modest and stable growth as its actual and preliminary sales for April were set at $1.14 billion. This was off 8.6% from the $1.25 billion sold in March but up 5.3% from the $1.08 billion sold in April 2021.
Sales for the first four months of 2022 totalled $4.46 billion, up 1.5% from the $4.40 billion sold during the same period last year.
For the most part, both furniture and home furnishings stores kept pace with many of the remaining durable goods categories – such as clothing, sporting goods, general merchandise and health/personal care stores. Statistics Canada noted total location-based store sales were up 8.9% in April 2022 over April 2022.
Motor vehicles and grocery stores continued to struggle in April.
Most analysts believe in the coming months, retail sales will be impacted by two major trends: a shift in consumer spending away from goods – such as furniture, mattresses and appliances – to services and high inflation.
“We expect to see some continued moderation in retail sales volumes as spending on goods gives way to rebounding spending on services, such as concert tickets, vacations and dining-out. Already changing consumer preference have caught some retailers off guard, with too much inventory of items where demand has been easing,” a senior member of the team at TD Economics said in a research note.