18 May 2024, 20:42
By Furniture News Feb 14, 2019

Furniture association highlights consumer spend in latest statistical digest

The Furniture Industry Research Association has published its annual Statistics Digest for the UK Furniture Industry, which acts as a barometer for the furniture sector. The latest digest reveals continued growth in demand for furniture and furnishings, with consumer expenditure in this group being almost £17.5b in 2017, exceeding all other spend in the household goods sector.

The 45-page digest comprises in-depth analysis of the latest available data, sourced from Government bodies including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Communities and Local Government, and the Bank of England. It covers furniture manufacturing, furniture and furnishings retail and international trade, alongside statistics on consumer behaviour including spend, lending and house buying.

The £17.5b consumer expenditure on furniture and furnishings in 2017 represented a +21% increase from 2014. YoY growth from 2014-16 was +6.9% and +4.8%, respectively. However, growth from 2016-17 was higher, at +7.9%.

Expenditure for the wider furnishings, household goods and routine maintenance sector rose by +25.5% from 2014-17, with YoY growth of +7% over 2016-17. This expenditure increase exceeded that seen in all other competitor sectors examined.

Adding to this, Suzie Radcliffe-Hart, technical manager at FIRA International and the author of the digest, says: “This growth trend continues from where the Statistics Digest closes. Latest data shows furniture and furnishings sales continuing to rise into early 2018, with first and second quarter consumer expenditure being respectively +8.5% and +8.3% higher than for the equivalent periods in 2017 – although we acknowledge that this has been a particularly challenging year.”

Turning to furniture manufacturing, the digest indicates growth over the period from 2015-17 for the furniture sector as a whole, equating to +1.6% for manufacturer sales and other income, or +7.9% for all income associated with the sector. However, YoY figures for 2016-17 present a slightly different picture, with a decrease in manufacturer sales and other income of -7.1%, but growth in total income for the sector of +1.3%. While furniture manufacturing in 2014 equated to 1.46% of the UK’s total manufacturing turnover, this had increased to 1.60% by 2017.

With regards to employment, in 2017, 6254 UK furniture manufacturers employed an average of 89,000 individuals. This was an increase of +1.14% on 2016 and +25.4% over the period from 2014-17. Despite its turnover being 1.60% of the total for UK manufacturing, the furniture sector employed 3.46% of all UK manufacturing personnel, which is estimated to have equated to 2.4% of the UK manufacturing wage bill.

Provisional data for 2017 suggests that employment costs for UK furniture manufacturing increased by +8.25% on the previous year.

Total 2017 turnover for the combined furniture and furnishings manufacturing sectors was £11.83b, representing a YoY increase of +4.8%. This turnover came from 6260 companies employing 120,000 individuals. Furniture manufacturing led the way, with a turnover of £8.49b.

Speaking on total furniture imports into the UK, Suzie comments: “Despite uncertainty over the UK’s departure, imports from the EU increased YoY, with the provisional figure for 2017 being £6.01b. I do, however, expect this figure to decrease slightly when full 2018 figures are available. This was the trend starting to emerge when import data published up to November 2018 was made available. I would put the estimate figure at approximately £5.9b.”

Although the UK furniture sector’s export performance historically appears relatively static – particularly when compared with the larger values attributable to imports – exports have gradually increased since 2012, peaking at £1.136b in 2017 and representing a +12% increase on 2016 figures.

Estimates for 2018, based on extrapolations from November 2018 data, are that this figure could be as high as £1.208b, equating to a YoY increase of +6.3%.

The digest is available to all members of the Furniture Industry Research Association here. Non-members can purchase a copy (£2,000+VAT) here. The March 2019 issue of Furniture News will feature an exclusive expanded article focused on the digest, with insights from the author.

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