UK Residential Furniture Consumers
There are currently around 10,000 retail outlets selling furniture, lighting and other home furnishings in the UK, with this figure having fallen in the last few years and some important companies going into liquidation in that time. In many cases, some individual outlets of these casualties were acquired by their competitors, particularly outlets in prime locations, although the trend in recent years has been for specialist e-commerce companies and digital retailers to be increasing their market share, together with traditional retailers upgrading their online capabilities and increasing the proportion of their sales via that channel.
Nevertheless, while online sales of furniture may have reached around 23-25% during 2020, the proportion seems likely to be around 20% in the next few years, with customers preferring to view and try larger items, such as upholstered furniture, beds and kitchen furniture.
Consumer characteristics influencing the furniture market are:
- Younger age categories are generally spending more, with data from the ONS showing that both the under 30’s and 30 to 49 year olds are currently the highest spenders on furniture, with most people in this group consisting of family groups, involving one or two working adults.
- Although older householders spend less on furniture, research has shown that many now retiring are supporting their children financially to get on the housing ladder and furnish their accommodation.The level of home ownership has declined steadily in recent years, with many young families forced to live in rented properties, due to the high costs involved in buying a home.
- Expenditure on home improvements, furniture and furnishings tends to be lower in rented properties, with landlords reluctant to risk higher levels of outgoings as investment returns decline.
- The restrictions imposed on households by the Government during the pandemic has resulted in a steep increase in the level of household savings – well above historical levels – and, while this trend has not been uniform across all household categories, it could result in a surge in expenditure, once most restrictions have been eased.