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Store sales fall in May

 4 August 2020     HGO Staff 

OTTAWA – There was good news for furniture store, home furnishings store and electronic/appliance store operators from Statistics Canada last week. Sales for the month of May were up significantly after falling to mind-numbingly low levels in April. But it was obvious the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is still negatively impacting brick-and-mortar retail even though the economy began to re-open throughout the month.

The national bean counter said it pegged furniture store sales for May at an actual and preliminary $657.8 million. While this was double the record low of $327.0 million set in April 2020, it was still 38.5% below the $1.07 billion rung-up in May 2019.

For the first five months of the year, furniture store sales totaled $3.42 billion – a drop of 24.4% from the $4.52 billion for the same period last year.

Home furnishings stores – which sell everything from floor coverings to lighting, linens, decorative accessories, wall art as well as accent furniture – had preliminary sales of $322.4 million for May 2020, up 49.8% from $218.7 million for April. However, it was still down 46.9% from the $606.2 million for May last year.

For the year-to-date, home furnishing store sales were set at $1.91 billion – down 29.6% from the $2.71 billion for the January to May period of 2019.

Comparatively speaking, electronics/appliances stores fared somewhat better than furniture and home furnishings stores as their declines were not as steep, perhaps because many of this category’s leading lights – such as Best Buy Canada and Visions Electronics – have a stronger virtual presence. Statistics Canada said brown goods merchants had actual and preliminary sales of $974.3 million for the month of May 2020. This was a 25% improvement over the $781.1 million sold in April while only registering a 7.4% decline from the $1.05 billion in May 2019.

For the year-to-date, electronics/appliance stores have accumulated sales of $4.59 billion, down 2.8% from the $4.73 billion for the corresponding period.

For the month of May, all location-based retail – that is, brick-and-mortar stores – has sales of $46.2 billion, a 20% drop from the $57.7 billion recorded in May 2019. Almost every one of the 11 retail segments covered by Statistics Canada continued to see lower sales expect for food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores. The latter includes Walmart Canada, which announced it was investing some $3.5 billion to expand its operations over the next couple of years.

For the year-to-date, location-based retail suffered an 11.8% decline to $211.3 billion. Once again, all sectors posted declines except for general merchandise and food and beverage stores.

Stearns and Foster
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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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