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Furniture store sales up in 1H

 9 September 2019     Michael J. Knell 

OTTAWA – Furniture store sales proved to be one of retail’s best performing sectors for both the second quarter and first half of 2019, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. While their performance wasn’t as strong, home furnishings stores gained momentum. But electronics and appliance stores lost ground during the first six months of the year.

The federal bean counter set furniture store sales for the month of June at a preliminary $1.04 billion (actual, not seasonally adjusted). While that was down slightly from the $1.08 billion rung-up in May, it brought the total for the second quarter of 2019 to $3.07 billion – a gain of 5.1% from the $2.92 billion for the comparable three months of 2018.

Furniture store sales for the opening six months of the year were pegged at $5.67 billion – an uptick of 4.6% over the $5.42 billion for the same period a year ago.

Statistics Canada defines a furniture store as any brick and mortar retail establishment that generates 51% or more of its annual revenue from the sale of furniture (including mattresses). Furniture store sales, therefore, include all product categories sold to Canadian consumers during that period. Pure play e-commerce or direct-to-consumer (DTC) merchants are not including in the survey.

Furniture stores were one of the top performing location-based retail categories during the first half. Statistics Canada noted all retail stores had combined sales of $294.3 billion for the January to June period – a year-over-year gain of 1.6%.

Other categories didn’t perform as well. For example, gas stations were off 4.5% for the first half – reflecting the volatility of prices at the pump – while both shoe and book stores also saw declining sales for the period.

Ed Strapagiel, the Toronto-based retail consultant, said that for the trailing 12 months ending 30 June 2019, furniture store sales were approximately $11.8 billion – a gain of 2.2%.

Meanwhile, home furnishings stores – which sell everything from lamps and lighting to floor covering, wall art and other decorative accessories – saw sales for the month of June dip 2.1% to $570.8 million.

However, home furnishings store sales for the second quarter posted a 2.7% uptick to $1.79 billion, compared to $1.74 for the same period in 2018.

For the year-to-date, these merchants had sales of $3.30 billion, a modest 0.8% advance from the comparable $2.78 billion.

For the trailing 12 months, home furnishing store sales were pegged at $7.1 billion – essentially unchanged on a year-over-year basis.

Electronics and appliance stores have continued to lose ground as 2019 retail campaign continues.

For the month of June, sales were set at a preliminary and actual $1.04 billion – down 11.5% from the $1.18 billion rung-up in June 2018.

For the second quarter, white and brown goods merchants have total sales of $3.11 billion, down 9.2% from the $3.43 billion for the comparable period last year.

Meanwhile, sales for the year-to-date were set at $6.11 billion, down $9.7% from $6.76 billion for the first half of 2018.

Overall, most analysts were pleased with June’s performance by all location-based retail and noted the figures will bode well for Canada’s overall economic growth. However, there are some dark clouds on the horizon.

“Looking ahead, we expect that household debt levels will continue to put a damper on retail sales and consumer spending growth,” Omar Abdelrahman of TD Economics, said in his research note. “That said, the recent surges in wage growth, stabilizing housing markets, and declining borrowing rates will serve to ease some of the existing headwinds to the sector.”

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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