Furniture retail sales down in February; carpets up

Furniture retail sales declined during February on last month but did increase against an annual comparison.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, furniture and lighting retail sales decreased 3.8% to £1.25bn from £1.3bn in January. This marked a second consultive month of declining sales. Compared to the previous year, sales rose 2.4% from £1.22bn.

Floorcovering retail sales rose month-on-month, up by 0.9% to £215.5m from £213.4m. Compared to the same time last year, sales decreased by 0.9% from £217.5m.

Department store sales volumes rose by 5.5% over the month, while total non-food stores sales volumes (total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 2.4% over the month, following a rise of 1.0% in January 2023.

Overall, total retail sales volume (quantity bought) in February fell by 3.5%, while the value (amount spent) increased by 5.5% to £36.2bn year-on-year. On a monthly comparison, volumes were up 1.2%, with the value spent up by 1.6%.

Online spending values rose by 2.6% in February 2023, because of monthly increases across all industries except household goods stores. The proportion of online sales was broadly unchanged at 25.4% in February 2023 from 25.3% in January 2023. The proportion of retail sales taking place online remains above the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (19.8% in February 2020).

Commenting on the retail sales figures for February, ONS Director of Economic Statistics Darren Morgan said: “Retail grew sharply in February with sales returning to their pre-pandemic level. However, the broader picture remains more subdued, with retail sales showing little real growth, particularly over the last eighteen months with price rises hitting consumer spending power.

“In the latest month, discount department stores performed strongly with food shops also doing well as consumers, confronted with cost-of-living pressures, cut back on eating out or purchasing takeaways. After rail strikes increased car travel in January, fuel sales fell back in February.”

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