Consumers' reluctance to consume is causing problems for the domestic furniture industry. As the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM) announced on Thursday in Cologne, citing figures from the Federal Statistical Office, producers' sales fell by 3.4 percent to 15.1 billion euros in the first ten months of 2023 compared to the same period last year. According to the association, the slowdown in housing construction is also making itself felt - people don't move as often and therefore have less reason to resettle their own four walls.
For the year as a whole, the VDM expects a decline in sales of five to seven percent - according to the industry estimate, the last two months of 2023 were significantly weaker than the previous months. In October, revenue fell by 7.4 percent.
For the current year, VDM managing director Jan Kurth expects sales to move sideways. The situation in the individual market segments is different: living room, dining and bedroom furniture sold significantly worse than before, while upholstered furniture saw a rather moderate decline. Office furniture even sold better.
The furniture industry was one of the few sectors of the economy that got through the Corona crisis relatively well: Since people traveled less and spent more time at home, many decided to buy new kitchens, sofas or tables. According to association information, sales in the German furniture industry increased by two percent in 2021 and by almost seven percent in 2022.
But this positive business development came to an end last year. Initially the full order books were processed, but they have now become significantly emptier. Employees are also feeling this: As an industry survey showed, 40 percent of furniture manufacturers used short-time work in the last quarter of last year, and 57 percent want to do this in the first quarter of 2024. The furniture industry refers to 432 companies in Germany that have a total of 75,600 employees. A good two thirds of the industry's turnover comes from companies based in East Westphalia-Lippe.
The five-day IMM furniture and furnishings trade fair begins this Sunday in Cologne, with 750 exhibitors exhibiting their products. It is considered an important trade fair where dealers and manufacturers are networked. There are no longer public days for the general public, but citizens without a connection to the industry can still buy tickets - so they can get in.