Current figures 2022

Effects of the pandemic on the German furniture trade

The comprehensive yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2022" (Furniture Figures Data 2022) from Vincentz Network (former Ferdinand Holzmann Verlag) provides information on developments in the German furniture market in times of Corona. In three parts, we analyse the studies and statistics contained therein, this time from the perspective of the furniture trade in Germany.

Mar 07 2022

The pandemic year 2020 was extremely changeable for the furniture trade in Germany, with some turbulence. At the beginning of the year, the order buffers of the retail companies slowly melted away, and from April onwards, the pandemic-related closure of the stationary trade weighed heavily on the industry.

Because consumers hardly travelled and instead invested their money in buying furniture, demand boomed in the summer, and the reduction in VAT in the second half of the year was another incentive to buy. Towards the end of the year, shops also had to close during the pre-Christmas period, when many retailers normally generate the bulk of their turnover.  

Plus of one per cent for the industry  

As a result of these ups and downs, the German furniture trade generated only about 34.5 billion euros in sales despite good phases, which corresponds to a plus of one percent. The product groups with the strongest market shares are kitchen furniture and fittings with 39 percent and upholstered furniture with 18 percent. Mainly due to the temporary introduction of the home office obligation, office furniture is in third place with 9 percent of the market share in 2020, ahead of bedroom furniture with 8 percent.  

In the first year of the pandemic, the German furniture trade recorded a 6 percent drop in export sales. At the same time, the health crisis helped the online furniture trade to gain further momentum: according to a survey, the number of respondents who bought their furniture online in 2020 rose by almost ten percent, so that sales in this segment increased by 17.5 percent, as the platform "Statista" determined.

The furnishing of home offices puts office furniture in third place in the turnover ranking in the COR year 2020 © König + Neurath

Stable turnover of the largest furniture retailers 

As with the total turnover of the furniture trade, the turnover of the top 20 companies increased only slightly, rising by 0.7 percent to 22.43 billion euros. Over the ten-year period, the 20 largest furniture retailers achieved a total increase of 37 percent.

The minimum turnover to reach twentieth place is now 210 million euros. The top 10 in the industry achieved a combined turnover of 19.7 billion euros in 2020. With a turnover of 5.325 billion euros, Ikea was once again the top performer, followed by XXXLutz in second and third place with 4.293 billion and Höffner with 2.1 billion euros. 

As the biggest challenges, 43 percent of the top 30 in the furniture trade named uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, followed by personnel issues and digitalisation with 26 percent each. For the future, half of the German retail companies plan to invest at least as much in their furniture stores as in the previous year, 43 percent even want to spend more money on this. Most also remain relatively optimistic about turnover and sales area.  

Kitchen furnishings remain the segment with the highest turnover 

The long-term trend towards homely kitchens was further strengthened, possibly also due to the temporary closure of catering facilities during the pandemic. Compared to the previous year, sales in 2020 in the kitchen furnishings segment rose by 9.9 percent.

In terms of kitchen equipment with electrical appliances, freezers achieved an increase of 39.7 percent, refrigerators achieved 12.8 percent more sales compared to the previous year, and cookers and ovens still achieved 11.0 percent. Looking at the entire market for household electrical appliances, sales rose by 14.7 per cent to 17.1 billion euros. The share of small electrical appliances is 7.1 billion euros, which is partly due to home office equipment.

 At 39 per cent, kitchen furnishings account for the largest market share in the German furniture trade © AMK

Importance of marketplaces for online trade 

What is the economic and social significance of online trade in Germany? A study by the University of Cologne and the Institute for Retail Research (IFH) Cologne investigated this question. One of the core theses is that platforms are especially useful for small specialist retailers.

Projections by the IFH Cologne show that last year 44 percent of online trade took place on online marketplaces such as Amazon Marketplace alone. The number of those active there is growing significantly and has long since exceeded the number of specialist retailers with their own web shops.

Marketplaces enable smaller retailers to be present online with little effort and to generate sales – even if the price pressure from larger suppliers is increasing. Depending on the niche, small specialist retailers could even open up global sales markets in this way, according to the makers of the study. For the German furniture trade, these offers have so far played a rather marginal role. 

Second place in global foreign trade  

In the long term, the furniture industry is moving away from Germany's domestic market; since 1970, foreign trade in furniture has steadily increased. From seven percent at the time, it increased to 32.7 percent in 2019; in the pandemic year 2020, the ratio fell only slightly to 31.2 percent. In a global comparison, Germany continues to rank second in both imports and exports. The top 3 export countries are China, Germany and Poland, and for imports it is the USA, Germany and France. 

Germany's furniture imports totalled 12.81 billion euros in 2020, 0.1 percent less than in the previous year. The strongest product groups were wooden living room and kitchen furniture with +3.9 percent and office furniture with +3.7 percent. At 4.0 per cent, seating furniture recorded the largest decline. The three most important import countries were Poland, the People's Republic of China and the Czech Republic. 

German exports clearly in the red 

Furniture exports totalled 9.92 billion euros, with a minus of 6.0 per cent. The most successful product group was wooden living room and kitchen furniture, with a small plus of 0.1 per cent. The biggest losses were in seating furniture with -9.9 per cent. German furniture exports went mainly to neighbouring France, Switzerland and Austria. 

The statistical yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2022" (Furniture Figures Data 2022) offers an interesting overview of developments in various segments and divisions of the furniture industry. Data material was mainly used for the period up to the end of 2020. How the furniture trade developed in 2021 will be highlighted in the next issue of the yearbook. 

Author: Heike Edelmann 

Write the first comment