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Store sales up year-over-year but fall slightly from March

 12 July 2021     Michael J. Knell 

OTTAWA – Actual furniture store, home furnishings store and electronics/appliance store sales (that is, not seasonally adjusted) all fell in April 2021 over the prior month, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. This may be an early indication that retail may be returning to normal patterns as Canada’s economy slowly re-opens as the pandemic begins to wane following massive vaccination campaigns across the country.

Many observers believe 2021’s retail performance to date should be more properly compared to 2019, before COVID-19 caused widespread store closures from coast-to-coast. Indeed, many brick-and-mortar were closed for as long as 200 days over the 12- month period ending this past April 30.

The federal bean counter recently pegged brick-and-mortar furniture store sales at an actual and preliminary $939.0 million for the month of April 2021. That’s down 19.9% from the $1.17 billion sold in March but a 185.6% leap from the $328.8 million sold in April 2020. However, they were just slightly less than 0.7% off the total rung-up in April 2019.

These figures include the e-commerce sales made by brick-and-mortar stores – such as The Brick, Tepperman’s and Tanguay – but do not include those by the pure online players such as Article, Kravuus or Wayfair.

For the first four months of the year, furniture store sales were $3.72 billion, a 35.6% gain over the $2.74 billion for the same period of 2020.

According to Ed Strapagiel, the Toronto-based retail consultant, furniture store sales for the trailing 12 months ending in April 2021 were up 12.9% to $12.6 billion.

Meanwhile, sales by brick-and-mortar home furnishings stores – which sell everything from floor covering to lamps and lighting, decorative accessories and accent furniture – had preliminary and actual sales of 587.4 million, a 13.5% decline from the $623.0 million rung-up in March but 157.3% higher than the 157.3 million sold in April 2020. However, when compared to April 2019, they were also off by about 0.7%.

For the year-to-date, home furnishings store sales totaled $2.28 billion, up 41.7% over the $1.58 billion for the same period last year. For the trailing 12 months ending April 2021, their sales were up 9.7% to $7.1 billion.

Electronics and appliance stores followed a similar pattern as their preliminary and actual sales were tagged at $1.09 billion by Statistics Canada for April 2021. This is down 4.4% from the $1.14 billion recorded for March 2021 but a 32.1% gain over the $825.9 million recorded for April 2020. However, these merchants bested their April 2019 numbers by 8.9%.

For the January to April period, electronics/appliance store sales stood at a collective $4.45 billion, up 25.2% over the $3.56 billion rung-up for the first four months of 2020. Sales for the trailing 12 months ending April 2021 were pegged at $15.7 billion, up a healthy 15.0% over the comparable period.

Furniture, home furnishings and electronics/appliance stores were among the strongest performance among the various categories of location-based brick-and-mortar retail sectors tracked by Statistics Canada on a regular basis. In fact, the other sector to significantly outperform them in April was building materials and garden equipment retailers which garnered sales gains in excess of 25% on a year-over-year basis.

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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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