Current figures 2021

Where the German furniture and kitchen retail industry stands

The comprehensive yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2021" (Furniture Figures Data 2021) from Ferdinand Holzmann Verlag provides information on current and long-term developments in the German furniture industry. In three parts, we analyse the studies and statistics presented in it, this time from the perspective of the furniture trade in Germany.

Apr 19 2021

Sales increase despite long shutdown 

In the pandemic year 2020, nothing was the same as before. In contrast to many areas of the retail trade, the furniture trade benefited from limited holiday opportunities. The total turnover of the German furniture trade had still risen by 4 percent to around 34.2 billion euros in 2019. The online platform Statista published a projection for 2020 from October with an estimated sales volume of 34.5 billion.

No figures are yet available on the performance of individual segments for 2020, but they are available for shares of the total furniture trade. Kitchen furniture currently has a share of 26 percent, followed by upholstered furniture with 22 percent, bedroom furniture with 13 percent and living room furniture with 11 percent.  

The majority of the top 30 companies in the furniture trade are optimistic, even in times of crisis: 83 percent of those surveyed expected higher sales in 2020 than in the previous year. The biggest challenges for the near future are seen in the areas of personnel and digitalisation. 

A cautiously positive development prevailed in the mood of the entire furniture industry towards the end of the year. The business climate in the furniture retail sector temporarily reached +30 points in the 3rd quarter of 2020 after sharp declines in the spring - the best assessment of all quarters in the period 2007 to 2020 (Ifo Institute for Economic Research).

After the first shutdown in spring, the buying mood rose in summer, with consumers preferring to invest in furniture and furnishings. 

The big players consolidate their position 

The differentiated data material of the yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2021" is mainly based on surveys up to the end of 2019. For example, the turnover of the top 20 in the German furniture trade increased by 2.7 percent to 22.26 billion euros in the 2019 financial year. Looking at the ten-year period, the increase in turnover amounts to almost 40 percent.  

Ikea tops the list of retailers with 5.278 billion euros, followed by XXXLutz including Poco (4.262 billion), Höffner (2.285 billion), the Otto Group (1.64 billion) and the Tessner Group (1.51 billion). In 20th place is the online retailer Home 24 with 205 million euros in sales in 2019.

Ikea remains the furniture retailer with the highest turnover in Germany. © Ikea Germany, photo André Grohe

Online trade on a long-term upward trend 

Germany's online trade continues to be on an upward trend, also in furniture. In 2019, the top 3 companies in the furniture trade alone accounted for 26 per cent of the German furniture trade, 13 per cent of furniture was sold online and around 61 per cent in stationary trade.  

A recent study predicts that the market share of the stationary furniture trade could decline by 10 per cent to 51.4 per cent by 2024 in the worst case scenario. The share of online retail could then be 19.6 percent, and the three largest retail companies together would have 29 percent. (Source: Study "Industry Focus Furniture", IFH/BBE) 

Amazon's share of total online retail sales was 48 percent in 2019, 2 percent more than in the previous year. No comparative figures are yet available for the pandemic year 2020, but the rate of increase is likely to be well above this, following the generally strong trend towards online retailing during the lockdown.

In 2019, every ninth German citizen bought products from the kitchen, household and living segment on Amazon or the Amazon Marketplace platform. 

Growing sales of kitchens 

The retail sector is experiencing a pleasing constant sales trend in the kitchen furniture segment. Almost 60 per cent of the top 30 retailers were able to achieve sales growth in kitchens in the period from 2017 to 2019, with 43.3 per cent reporting an increase of more than ten per cent.

Looking at the figures more closely, the biggest increases in sales mainly relate to the 2019 financial year, as three quarters of those surveyed still said in 2018 that they would not generate any sales growth in the current financial year.  

The top 10 in the German kitchen trade alone generated an impressive 3.08 billion euros in turnover in 2019. In 2017, their turnover was still 2.69 billion, which corresponds to a plus of 14.5 percent.

Kitchens account for the largest share of total sales in the German furniture trade, at 26 percent. © VDM

Import and export of German companies 

A long-term view shows that the furniture industry is moving away from the German domestic market towards international exchange. Foreign trade in furniture has increased steadily since 1970. From 7 per cent at the time, it increased to 32.7 per cent in 2019; according to the VDM, the ratio fell slightly to 31.2 per cent in 2020. Germany's furniture imports totalled 12.81 billion euros in 2019, 2.5 per cent more than in the previous year.

The strongest product groups were office furniture with an increase of 20.1 percent and bedroom furniture (+17.1 percent). At 8.9 per cent, imported parts of seating furniture recorded the largest decline. In 2020, according to the VDM, office and shop furniture suffered significant sales losses of -9.1 per cent. 

Furniture exports from Germany totalled 10.55 billion euros in 2019, with an increase of 2.6 per cent. The most successful product group was wooden furniture parts (+17.8 per cent), ahead of mattresses (+16.7 per cent) and dining and living room furniture (+15.4 per cent).

There was a clear negative development in shop wood furniture (-7.9 percent) and parts of seating furniture (-5.8 percent). For 2020, the Federal Statistical Office reports more up-to-date figures, albeit less differentiated. According to these, furniture worth 9.8 billion euros was exported in 2020, which corresponds to a minus of 2.6 percent.  

German companies mainly imported and exported to the European Union, with exports at 71.2 per cent and imports at 68.9 per cent in 2019. In a global comparison, Germany ranks second in both imports and exports. The top 3 exporting countries are China, Germany and Poland.  

In terms of import countries, the USA, Germany and the UK are the leaders. In the Corona and Brexit year 2020, sales of German furniture to the UK fell by 9.3 per cent. (Source: Federal Statistical Office). The preparation of the players for feared effects from the Brexit is likely to play a role here. At the editorial deadline of the current yearbook, further reliable data on German foreign trade in 2020 was not yet available.  

The statistical yearbook "Möbel Zahlen Daten 2021" offers an interesting overview of developments in various segments and divisions of the furniture industry. Given the abundance of material, it is not unavoidable that some of the sources cited cover varying periods of time and different product categories, which does not always make comparisons easy. 

Author: Heike Edelmann 

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