Store sales climb in July
OTTAWA – The latest figures released by Statistics Canada reveal furniture store, home furnishing store and electronics/appliance store sales continued to make monthly gains in July as the economy slowly re-opened across of the country. However, the negative impact from the pandemic is still very much in evidence and many leading economists remain concerned about whether this momentum will be sustained in the coming months.
It should be noted the Retail Trade Survey measures the performance of brick-and-mortar stores and does not include sales generated by the pure play e-commerce merchants such as Article, Rove Concepts, Goodmorning.com or Endy.
The national bean counter set July 2020 furniture store sales at a preliminary and actual $1.20 billion, up 12.8% over the $1.12 billion rung-up in June and 7.2% higher than the $1.06 billion in July 2019.
For the opening seven months of 2020, total furniture store sales were set at $5.74 billion – 13.1% lower than the $6.90 billion for the comparable period last year.
In his analysis, the Toronto-based retail consultant Ed Strapagiel noted furniture store sales for the trailing 12 months ending July 2020 were $11.0 billion – down 6.3% from the $11.7 billion for the same period ending July 2019, a real indication that the sector is entering a period of slower growth.
Home furnishings stores – which sell everything from accent and occasional furniture to decorative accessories, lamps, lighting and floor covering – had preliminary sales of $591.7 million in July, an 11.4% gain over the $531.2 million sold in June but down 2% from the $603.9 million sold in July 2019.
For the year-to-date, merchants in this category – which includes HomeSense, a division of the U.S. based TJX Corporation – had collective sales of $3.01 billion, a 22.7% decline from the $3.89 billion rung-up for the comparable 2019 period.
For the trailing 12 months also ending in July, home furnishing store sales were $6.2 billion – down 12.7% from $7.1 billion.
Meanwhile, electronics/appliance store sales were set at $1.17 billion for the month of July. This was up 4.8% from the $1.12 billion sold in June and up 10.1% from the $1.06 billion in July 2019.
These merchants seem to have lost the least ground during the pandemic shut down as many of the retailers in this category – such as Best Buy Canada and Visions Electronics – all have robust e-commerce platforms, whose revenues are included in this survey. For the year-to-date, electronic/appliance sales totalled $6.91 billion, a 1.2% gain from the prior year’s $6.82 billion.
As with furniture and home furnishings stores, electronics/appliance stores are also seeing slowing growth. At $13.8 billion for the trailing 12 months ending July 2020, these merchants saw decline of 7.4% over the comparable period’s $14.9 billion.
In a comment to Home Goods Online, Strapagiel noted, “Sales came back but I don’t know if I'd call it ‘strongly’ yet. It could be just latent demand – people catching up on delayed needs. It might go on for a few months but maybe not for the rest of the year.
He also cautions that the current high levels of unemployment will force a continuing decline in consumer confidence, which will continue to be one of the more significant drivers of furniture, mattress and major appliance sales in the coming months.