Reduced footfall impacts furniture retail sales in April 2024

Furniture retail sales decreased during April on last month as well as against an annual comparison.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, furniture and lighting retail sales fell 23.2% to £1.12bn from £1.46bn in March. Compared to the previous year, sales were down 14.5% from £1.31bn.

Floorcovering retail sales decreased month-on-month, down by 23.9% to £211.5m from £278.2m. Compared to the same time last year, sales fell by 1.3% from £214.5m.

Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) fell by 2.3% in April 2024, following a fall of 0.2% in March 2024 (revised from 0.0%). As for the value (amount spent), this was down 2.6% month-on-month.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) fell by 4.1% in April 2024. This was the joint largest fall (shared with December 2023) since January 2021. Within non-food, falls were strongest within clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toys stores, and furniture stores, with retailers reporting poor weather and low footfall as the main reasons.

The amount spent online, known as online spending values, fell by 1.2% during April 2024, and by 1.5% over the year. As total spend showed a greater fall during the month (2.6%), the proportion of sales made online increased from 26.2% in March 2024 (revised from 25.9%) to 26.5% in April 2024.

Kris Hamer, Director of Insight at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Sales volumes saw significant decline in April, falling for the third time in five months as the gloomy, wet weather combined with the cost of living squeeze dampened spending. Cosmetics continued to sell well, and computer sales were boosted thanks to promotional activity and consumers upgrading their tech a few years after the pandemic surge in tech sales. Meanwhile, clothing and footwear and furniture failed to deliver due to the poor weather and consumers thinking twice before buying high ticket items.

“With summer around the corner, and inflation fast approaching the Bank of England’s 2% target, retailers are hopeful that consumer confidence will improve, and spending will pick up once again. Retail is crucial to healthy local economies, and if the next Government wants to boost growth and jobs in left behind regions, it must help unlock retail investment right across the country. With a General Election fast approaching, political parties must ensure their manifestos detail how they will support retail, the three million people it employs, and the 60 million people it serves.” 

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