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And prospects for 2024

Results of the French furniture market in 2023: a resilient market

The year 2023 ends with a slight decrease in the sales of furniture to individuals, -2.5% in value, which nonetheless masks a decrease of about 8% in volume, that's read in a press release from l'Ameublement français and IPEA/Fnaem. The effects of COVID are still present, as the significant decline in the real estate market has not led to a similar decrease in the furniture market, indicating that households still prefer to furnish their homes. This resilience of the furniture market is explained by the emergence of new expectations from households regarding the functions and organization of their homes. The COVID period has shown that the French have replaced some of their furniture without necessarily moving. This desire to renew the interior while staying at home is one of the main consequences of COVID leading to higher average spending. In 2023, there was a decrease in visitor numbers accompanied by a decrease in volume, but still an increase in average spending, regardless of the type of furniture. This year 2023 is divided into two very different periods, a first semester that is still very advantageous and a second semester that is much more tense in terms of traffic.

In 2023, despite consumer demand for comfort triggered by COVID, bedding did not fully benefit from this need, possibly due to strong growth in the previous decade. However, bedding sales seem to be picking up again due to increased marketing efforts and online presence. The furniture market remained stable in value but saw significant differences in performance across products and players, with a notable decrease in volumes. Consumers increasingly favor second-hand furniture and customizable sets to optimize space in their homes. The kitchen market, after exceptional years, saw a significant adjustment in sales volumes, likely due to real estate crises and consumer slowdown. This period marks the beginning of a reorganization of offerings, emphasizing the distinction between assembled and kit furniture. Additionally, there's a trend towards rationalizing sales points and spaces across France.

In 2023, sofas, benches, and armchairs saw a slight decrease in sales, influenced by increased offerings in large retail store furniture sections, expanded space at specialist stores, and a growing online presence. Convertible products continue to drive demand for space optimization, while fixed offerings dominate the living room, overshadowing furnishing. The impact of real estate trends is evident in bathroom furniture sales, relying more on households seeking comfort upgrades without relocating. Demographic shifts in France are expected to boost the comfort and wellness furniture market in the coming years. Despite a surge in garden furniture sales due to COVID, 2023 witnessed a decline in volumes, although average spending remains positive. French consumers prioritize balcony, terrace, and garden furnishing, indicating a willingness to invest. However, faced with trade-offs and unfavorable weather, consumers postponed purchases, showing less interest in discounted entry-level products.

Photo © Loren File |

Putting 2024 into perspective
A "return to normal" starkly contrasts with two historic years. The 2023 results of the furniture market confirm its landing initiated at the end of 2022 and a return to activity comparable to the years preceding the exceptional and atypical "COVID" period. In a global context of subdued consumption, the furniture sector has demonstrated its resilience, with the number of stores remaining stable.

The few highly publicized liquidations at the end of 2023, involving companies like Habitat/ConranShop, fortunately do not reflect the reality of the market and should be put into perspective: for example, Habitat represented less than 0.05% of the market, and these liquidations were primarily the result of long-standing structurally deficit companies.

Actors in the furniture industry continue to invest in strengthening their service offerings. Digitalized stores, recognized as preferred purchasing locations by 67% to 86% of furniture buyers, blur the line between online and physical commerce. Manufacturers and distributors invest to support the market's medium-term dynamism amid geopolitical uncertainties. Major players like the Fournier group invest in new production sites to meet consumers' demands for custom interior design projects. French manufacturers gain market share and diversify activities to enhance resilience, with domestic production increasing from 25% in 2022 to 26% in 2023. They also invest in other sectors like hospitality and expand into new geographic markets such as the Middle East and the United States.

Source: l'Ameublement

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