Almost everyone buys furniture. We use furniture in our houses and businesses as places to sit (chairs, sofas, stools), work (desks, chairs), and sleep (beds.) It’s an important part of everyday life.
Furniture is manufactured all around the world and is sold to consumers and businesses. Sometimes it is sold through online sites. It is also sold through retail stores. This paper describes the U.S. retail furniture industry.
Description of the U.S. Retail Furniture Industry
Furniture is defined as “movable articles, as tables, chairs, desks or cabinets, required for use or ornament in a house, office, or the like.” (dictionary.com, 1) There are many different categories of furniture. Furniture includes household furniture, outdoor furniture, and office furniture. (Census Bureau, NAICS category 442110, 2)
There are thousands of furniture retailers in the United States. Some of them are owned by chains. Some are individual “mom and pop” outlets. The two biggest furniture retailers are Ashley Furniture and Ikea. (apartmenttherapy.com, 3) U.S. furniture sales were $111 billion in 2019. (modishstore.com, 4) The top 100 furniture retailers accounted for 75% of all furniture sales in the United States. (modishstore.com, 4)
Microeconomic Variable in the Retail Furniture Industry – Dollar Sales
An important microeconomic variable in the retail furniture industry is dollar sales of furniture. The graph below shows data on the sales from furniture and home furnishing sales from 2003 to 2020.
Furniture is a durable good, so purchases can be delayed. Note how furniture sales plummeted during the COVID pandemic of early 2020. When people lost their jobs, they delayed furniture purchases. Also, furniture store operating hours were restricted. (furnituretoday.com, 5)
How Government Might Impact the Industry
There are several ways the government can impact retail furniture sales. One major way is through government safety regulations for some types of furniture. The federal government regulates sharp points and edges on children’s products, marking on imported furniture, antimicrobial textiles, toxic substances, and formaldehyde in high density fiberboard. Labeling is also regulated. There are regulations regarding claims of environmental benefits and the definition of organic fibers. (CPSC.gov, 7)