The market increased steadily in the 2012-15 period, as the UK economy improved and consumer confidence rose. However, growth has slowed in the last two years. The improving economic situation and growth in the housebuilding sector had a positive impact on consumer confidence, with specialist upholstery retailers continuing to spend heavily on advertising and promotion in the face of strong competition in the sector.
The popularity of modern and contemporary furniture seems to favour alternative furniture combinations, rather than the traditional 3-piece suites. Tailored designs and clean lines are expected to continue in line with contemporary trends. In terms of colours, recent evidence suggests that neutral and plain colours are the mainstay and will continue to remain popular in the medium term, particularly grey, beige and cream shades.
Other trends include flexible and modular furniture options to allow for open plan living areas and awkward spaces. This is also reflected in the range of design options now offered, including corner sofas, u-shaped sofas and chaise sofas etc.Multi-functional furniture has made inroads into a number of furniture sectors in recent years, with storage an increasingly important issue.
In terms of suppliers, assuming that the fall in the value of the Sterling continues – and many financial institutions believe this to be the case – the price of imports will increase and this could drive value growth in the market. At the same time, UK manufacturers will become more competitive with opportunities to increase market share.
Multiple furnishing outlets have the advantages of increased purchasing power and the wide range of stock they are able to carry and this is likely to enable them to maintain their market share, but they are facing strong competition, particularly from digital and E-commerce companies.