Chart of the Day: The Sad State of Furniture Sales

More

Today, we learned that retail sales fell for the first time since June 2010. But one retail sector is quite used to seeing sales decline, even as they have begun to grow in other industries. Furniture and home furnishing sales fell much farther than broader retail sales and have yet to meaningfully recover. Their path has been a brutal one.

Here's a chart showing furniture and home furnishing sales (red line) versus total retail and food services sales (green line):

furniture 2011-05.png

Furniture and home furnishing sales peaked in January 2007 at $9.6 billion, right around the time the housing bubble began to deflate. Over the next two years, they would fall by more than 25% to $7.1 billion in October 2009. Since then, they've improved a little, but not much. In May, they were $7.4 billion, up 4% -- over 20 months.

As you can see, furniture fared far worse than broader retail sales. In January 2007 their trajectories began to diverge. Furniture sales sunk farther and never really recovered. Meanwhile, broader retail sales rose to new highs this year. Since they hit their recessionary lows, retail sales have gained more than 16% -- compared to the mere 4% recovery for furniture and home furnishings. And remember, broader retail sales did not fall nearly as far.

There's a pretty significant connection between home sales and furniture sales. That begins to explain the divergence of furniture sales compared to those of other goods and services. Of course, home sales have also failed to meaningfully rebound to their pre-bubble levels. Since they aren't expected to rise again anytime soon, we shouldn't expect much sunnier days for furniture sales in the near- to medium-term either.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In