Furniture retailers are reporting strong sales, boosted by Black Friday special offers.
Although Black Friday is traditionally an American phenomenon, it has become increasingly popular in the UK as a way of kickstarting Christmas shopping with many retailers offering discounts and running promotions for most of November. And the impact of the shopping event was demonstrated by a five per cent increase in total retail sales in November, according to the most recent BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor (RSM).
Total retail sales for November 2021 were also up 4.1 per cent from the pre-pandemic levels of November 2019. Of the 13 categories measured by RSM, furniture sales ranked fourth, up from 11th place during October, suggesting consumers are buying new items for their home ready for their Christmas celebrations and the start of a new year.
And online furniture sales went from eighth to sixth place, indicating that increasing numbers are choosing to use the internet to make their purchases rather than heading into a showroom or other bricks and mortar store.
Overall furniture sales had shown the most growth over a two-year period of any sector. This could be because lockdowns and social distancing measures have seen people spend more time in their own homes than ever before.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC (British Retail Consortium), said: “While Christmas may or may not be getting earlier every year, Black Friday certainly is. The American holiday has now become a month-long affair in the UK, with deals spread over a longer period than ever before. While ecommerce was significantly down on last year, when lockdown pushed more consumers online, it still remains almost one-fifth up on pre-pandemic levels, accounting for almost half of all non-food spend.
“Looking forward to Christmas, spending patterns suggest that sales could be more spread out than in previous years. Consumers, erring on the side of caution, are shopping for gifts earlier to get ahead of issues relating to shipping and transport. Meanwhile, retailers are doing everything they can to prepare stores, warehouses and deliveries ahead of Christmas, prioritising all the food and gifts that customers will need to enjoy the festive season.”
Cautious approach expected for January sales
However Paul Martin, UK head of retail for KPMG, said the January sales could be more muted than in previous years.
He said: “As we look ahead to the new year, rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply chain issues have impacted the availability of goods, leaving retailers with very little room for the mega discounting events we have seen in previous January sales. Rising inflation, which could top 4%-plus by the end of this year, is likely to prompt an interest rate rise sooner rather than later, which could dent consumer confidence and spending.”
Growth in the number of consumers opting to buy their furniture and homeware online has created a high demand for third party logistics (3PL) services like those provided by AP+. Ideal for retailers who do not have their own warehouses or distribution facilities, AP+ can fulfil orders and send them directly to customers, while also managing any returns.
With a purpose-built 300,000 sq ft warehouse in the North West, we have plenty of space to store stock for companies in the furniture and homeware industry. And we have invested in state-of-the art systems using automated processes to make the services we offer as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
These include stock control systems which are integrated with 60 different e-commerce platforms, a cloud-based order management system (OMS) and a warehouse management system (WMS) which checks and updates inventory in real time. We can also identify to best carrier to use for each order by using comparison software which allows us to save our customers both time and money.
Find out more about the services we offer by calling us today.