Furniture retail sales declined in April

Furniture retail sales fell during April but rose when compared to the previous year.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, furniture retail sales declined 20% to £1.2bn from £1.5bn in March. Compared to the previous year, sales improved 9% from £1.1bn.

Floorcovering retail sales were also down month-on-month by 20.7% to £229m from £289m. Compared to the same time last year, sales increased by 31.6% from £174m.

Overall, total retail sales volume (quantity bought) in April fell by 4.9%, while the value (amount spent) increased by 4.5% to £37.4bn year-on-year.

The proportion of retail sales online rose to 27% in April from 25.9% in March and remains substantially higher than the 19.9% in February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting on the retail sales figures for April, Heather Bovill, ONS Deputy Director for Surveys and Economic Indicators said: “Retail sales picked up in April after last month’s fall. However, these figures still show a continued longer term downward trend.

“The proportion of online sales crept up a little this month, but despite this increase have predominantly fallen since their peak in early 2021, although they remain well above pre-pandemic levels.”

Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retail sales are being squeezed by a combination of low demand, high inflation and rising costs. The fall in demand comes as consumers reign in their discretionary spending following a significant reduction to real incomes for households across the UK. Meanwhile, retailers face higher food and commodity prices, increased shipping and transport costs, and the tightest labour market in decades.

“Retailers are working hard to support their customers by keeping costs down where they can, and expanding affordable ranges, however it is impossible to mitigate all the costs coming through their supply chains. Until inflation is brought to heel, and consumer confidence returns, retailers could be in for some difficult times ahead, with lower demand and reduced margins.”

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