Furniture retail sales up in June as summer sales deliver boost

Furniture retail sales rose during June on last month as well as showing an increase against an annual comparison.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, furniture and lighting retail sales increased 33% to £1.6bn from £1.2bn in May. Compared to the previous year, sales rose 6% from £1.5bn. This marked the highest monthly sales since December’s £1.6bn figure.

Floorcovering retail sales rose month-on-month, up by 12.9% to £246.1m from £217.9m. Compared to the same time last year, sales increased by 3.4% from £237.8m.

Total non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 1.0% in June 2023, following a fall of 0.5% in May 2023. Household goods stores reported a monthly rise in sales volumes of 1.4% because of strong sales in furniture stores, with some retailers also reporting summer sales having a positive impact.

Overall, total retail sales volume (quantity bought) in June fell by 1%, while the value (amount spent) increased by 4.3% to £49.1bn year-on-year. On a monthly comparison, volumes were up 0.7%, with the value spent also up by 0.7%.

Online spending values fell by 0.5% in June 2023 because of monthly falls in clothing and food stores as they returned to previous levels following increases last month. The proportion of online sales fell to 26.0% in June 2023 from 26.5% in May 2023 and has remained broadly consistent at around 26% since May 2022.

Commenting on the retail sales figures for June, ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner said:“Retail sales grew strongly, with food sales bouncing back from the effects of the extra bank holiday, partly helped by good weather, and department stores and furniture shops also having a strong month. 

“However, these were partially offset by falls in fuel, garden centres and clothes shops. Growth still fell on an annual basis, but at its slowest rate since the beginning of the Ukraine war.”

Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “June’s sunshine gave retail sales growth a boost as customers readied themselves for the summer season, with products in areas such as fashion, skincare and books performing particularly well. Nonetheless, consumer confidence remains fragile, and with households feeling the pinch from high inflation and rising interest rates they held back on making big ticket purchases, especially in areas such as electricals.

“Retailers are hopeful that consumer confidence will improve over the coming months as inflation eases. Falling inflation rates are a clear sign that competition is bringing down prices wherever cost pressures ease. While retailers are doing their bit, Government has a role to play in bringing inflation down. The costly reforms to the packaging levy (Extended Producer Responsibility) and a new deposit return scheme could together add £4bn in costs to retailers, putting renewed pressure on prices. Government should reconsider the timelines for these interventions in order to not make the current challenging environment even more challenging for households and businesses.”

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