Autumn brought about a number of fascinating trends in home furnishing, writes Ray Wright, co-founder of search and discovery website for home furniture and furnishings, ufurnish.com …

With economic headwinds in the UK economy impacting the everyday consumer’s wallet, it’s fair to say that many furniture retailers have been feeling the squeeze. 

At ufurnish.com, we’ve recently taken time to step back, analyse millions of data points from people’s behaviour on our search website, and we’ve also surveyed our 125,000 members to understand how they are feeling and what they are looking for when it comes to home furnishing. Here’s what we found…

Economic challenges

In our recent ufurnish.com member survey we received thousands of responses, and they highlighted three key themes on how people are feeling in the UK.

Since the Covid pandemic ended, people have been very focused on holiday and lifestyle spending. They admitted to overspending in this area due to the way they were feeling after being locked down.

Next, the cost of living is now a huge burden on people. In 2022 people were able to manage their outgoings as price inflation was challenging but not bank breaking for many. This year has seen many people’s mortgage products expire, and this has put excessive financial pressure on both homeowners and renters. Many respondents reported being an additional £400-£1200 out of pocket per month versus Q4 2022.

Finally, people still want to purchase things they need, but they will seek value – and seeking value doesn’t just mean best price. People will look for quality and confidence in purchasing decisions. They want to be sure they are getting the right deal from a reputable company before parting with their money.

Undoubtedly, these themes are impacting people’s shopping behaviour, and that impact is being shared with us at ufurnish.com, as some retailers have reported a -20%-30% drop in sales volumes when comparing Q3 2022 to Q3 2023. 

One website search behaviour that ufurnish.com has observed in the past three months is an increase in the amount of people engaging with the ‘Sales’ filter. There’s been a +250% increase in the amount of people using the filter to ensure they feel they are getting the best deal on furniture pieces they are looking for.

Trending home styles

Many people are super fashion conscious when it comes to their home. Minimalism and Scandi style has been big for some time, but recent trends show that japandi and art deco styles have been flocked to by the masses across mid-to-late 2023. Search volumes for ‘japandi’ increased +400% in Q3 versus Q2, and   ‘art deco’ saw a +14% increase. 

Two styles that have been on the decline over Q3 are maximalism and vintage. We saw people pull back on these styles, which is interesting as they were red hot during the pandemic. Search volume decreases in Q3 versus Q2 were -50% for ‘vintage’, and -10% for ‘maximalism’.

The Barbiecore fad may be over

During the spring and summer we saw people flock to the cinema to see Barbie. The big-screen colour blast of Barbie drove a home fad called Barbecore, with bright pinks and purple searches going wild! 

That trend appears to have now passed, and we’re now seeing people push towards strong colours such as bronze, copper and terracotta. The Q3 versus Q2 colour search trend highlights we recorded included: bronze (+1546%); copper (+1106%); terracotta (+688%); multicoloured (+335%); orange (+315%); turquoise (+250%); blue (+224%); gold (+217%) and teal (+216%). The only colours to see a QoQ decrease were purple (-17%) and pink (-23%). 

This winter sales period may be one of the most crucial trading periods for UK furniture retail. There’s no doubt that retailers will be going hard on sales, and coupling that with strong value propositions such as quick delivery. At ufurnish.com, we’ll be closely analysing results and doing all we can to keep at the coalface of market insights, to help build momentum for a successful 2024 in furniture retail.

See the feature in this month's issue for more examples from ufurnish.com's stable of retail brands.

Pictured: Japandi style from And So To Bed