Current figures 2022

Consumer behaviour when buying furniture in times of Corona

How did the purchasing behaviour of consumers develop during the Corona pandemic? Answers to this question can be found in the statistical yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2022", published by Ferdinand Holzmann Verlag. In three parts, we highlight the studies and statistics on the German furniture industry presented in it, this time focusing on consumer behaviour.

Apr 11 2022

As for many sectors of the economy, the year 2020 was also difficult for the furniture industry. In terms of purchasing behaviour and the resulting sales figures, however, individual areas of the furniture sector are doing extremely well. In times of Corona, for example, consumers in Germany preferred to buy outdoor furniture as well as furniture, appliances and furnishings for the kitchen. 

In addition, online furniture retailing continues to grow in popularity among consumers. According to a survey by the portal "Statista", almost ten percent of respondents shopped for more furniture online during the Corona crisis, which led to a 17.5 percent increase in sales in the first year of the pandemic. 

Purchases of furniture and refrigerators brought forward 

The VAT cut in the second half of 2020 had an overall positive impact on consumer goods sales. According to a survey of German households that brought forward planned purchases because of this, 47 to 52 percent in particular purchased electrical appliances such as televisions, refrigerators and laptops.

A similarly high share of 43 to 50 percent was achieved by furnishings such as furniture, lamps or tableware. Overall, the effects of buying ahead were more noticeable among households with higher incomes than among consumers with lower incomes.

New furniture for the garden, balcony and terrace is high on the wish list © VDM / Freifrau

Garden and home office particularly important  

A representative survey showed that consumers in Germany changed their priorities during the Corona period in favour of outdoor culture. As many as 65 percent of those surveyed said that having their own terrace and garden had become significantly more important to them. But the balcony also has a higher priority than before the pandemic: 50 percent of the participants now find it much more relevant for being able to spend time outdoors at home. 

In addition, 43 percent of consumers place more value on a separate room for the home office due to the Corona situation, especially if they have children. The sales figures confirm that the garden furniture sector is one of the winners, 2020 was an outdoor year. An increase of 9.4 percent boosted sales in this market to 20.7 billion euros. As sales channels, consumers preferred DIY and home improvement stores with 23.4 percent and above all distance selling via online shops or catalogues with 42.3 percent. 

In addition, kitchen furnishing is still very popular with consumers in Germany. The trend towards the kitchen as the centre of the home is unbroken, as the sales trend proves. Compared to the previous year, the kitchen industry recorded a plus of 9.9 percent in 2020. Looking at kitchen furniture alone, consumers in Germany spent 7.5 percent more, with sales in this segment amounting to around 3.15 billion euros.  

Smart household appliances on the upswing

For millions of people in Germany, the use of smart home technologies is now part of everyday life: for example, 3.3 million use internet-connected household appliances such as refrigerators, coffee machines or vacuum robots in their living spaces in the first quarter of 2020. That is around 5 percent of the population aged ten and over, or 10 percent in the 25 to 44 age group. Smart speakers are used by 16 percent of those surveyed and 7 percent already control their heating, lighting and electricity meters digitally. 

The use of smart home technologies is already part of everyday life in many households © AMK

Clear content desired in furniture online retailing 

66 percent of the customers surveyed value the content of furniture retailers in online shops above all when prices are easy to find. Precise product descriptions are important for 62 percent of the study participants, the clear presentation of discounts and special offer prices for 63 percent. In addition, 57 percent of the respondents wanted high-quality product images of furniture. 

Consumer spending in Germany 

Consumer spending by private households in the Corona year 2020 is expected to decline sharply by 5.9 percent. However, a study prepared by the "Projektgruppe Gemeinschaftsdiagnose" shows that the situation will recover in the course of 2021 and that spending will already rise to an average of 1.8 percent in the second half of the year. For the first half of 2022, the group forecasts 7.3 percent growth, and for the second half of the year still a plus of 3.8 percent.  

Reason enough for the German furniture industry to look positively into the future. After all, consumer spending on furnishings and electrical household appliances rose slightly but steadily over a ten-year period to 7.0 percent in 2020. Germany is also doing relatively well in a European comparison. 

Looking at the expenditure of private households on furniture and furnishings excluding household appliances, this amounts to 1.9 percent of consumer spending in the countries of the Eurozone. Germany and Austria lead the ranking with 2.6 per cent each, with Great Britain bringing up the rear with 1.3 per cent. A large proportion of consumers bought from the German top 3 in the furniture sector, Ikea, XXXLutz and Höffner. 

Most private households are small 

According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were a total of 40.5 million households in Germany in 2020. According to this, the majority of the inhabitants (40.6 percent) live alone, followed by households with two persons and 34.0 percent. 

Looking at the period from 2012 to 2020, the number of single-person households remained almost the same. This continuity will probably change little in the coming years. Thus, furnishings for smaller flats such as compact, flexible and multifunctional furniture will also be high on the list of popular products in the long term. 

Author: Heike Edelmann 

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