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Oct 10 2018

Buying furniture – online or in-store?

Younger consumers prefer to buy their furniture on the Internet, which is why stationary retailers feel increasingly under pressure. But what is the actual numerical ratio? A representative survey commissioned by the Association of the German Furniture Industry is devoted to this question.

With an increasing share of "digital natives", online commerce will increase in importance in future. For this reason, not only traders, but also manufacturers and suppliers, designers and interior decorators should already adapt now to the constantly growing relevance of the Internet in order to remain successful over the long term.

A representative survey recently commissioned by the association of the German furniture industry (VDM) from the renowned market research institute Kantar TNS is dedicated to this question. The results show that the procurement of information and online shopping are today still independent of questions of age.

This will change considerably in future due to a constantly increasing share of "digital natives", who have grown up with computers and the Internet.

Older people prefer the stationary trade

According to the study "Online Shopping or Shopping Trip", three quarters of furniture buyers made their last purchase in a furniture store, but even today, 14 percent of German consumers already purchase furniture in the Internet. In terms of online shoppers, people living alone and the under-30s lead by a clear margin.

Older people remain loyal to the stationary furniture trade. "Young people also won't want to dispense with the online purchase of furniture with increasing age. There is clearly great potential for the furniture industry here", says Jan Kurth, Managing Director of the VDM.

Most important sources of information

Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed in the study inform themselves through the Internet. Slightly more than half of participants prefer brochures of the furniture stores as the most important source of information. Nonetheless, around 70 percent still have a look in the store before buying furniture.

The higher the level of education, the more information is actively sought via the Internet. Internet enthusiasts tend to live to an above average degree in Bavaria, Berlin and in other major cities.

Clear developments become apparent when one considers age: in the younger target group of those under 40, the Internet dominates for nearly 80 percent, whereby 63 percent of them still inform themselves directly in the furniture store. Most of those surveyed across all age groups indicate having moved from the source of information in the Internet to purchasing in the local furniture store as opposed to the other way around.

It appears as if many younger people surveyed attach importance to being able to view products personally in the shop, especially when purchasing larger furniture items, and also being able to test them when possible.

Internet buyers are young singles

Generally speaking, a good 80 per cent of German consumers who participated in the VDM study have bought larger items of furniture in the past five years. As can be expected, this share declines with increasing age.

Berlin residents are the top furniture buyers, which might be related to the constant arrival of people and the increasing share of single households in the capital city. The higher the household net income, the more is spent for furniture. Of the 14 percent of buyers who order furniture via the Internet, around 10 percent purchase from a pure online trader and 4 percent through the Internet portal of a furniture store.

In terms of online shoppers, people living alone and the under-30s lead by a clear margin. The two large online pure players Amazon and ebay are especially popular with women. Those under 30 use the Internet portals significantly more often than those older than 60.

Increase in online shopping

The results show that the procurement of information and online shopping are today still independent of questions of age. This will change considerably in future due to a constantly growing share of "digital natives".

For this reason, traders, as well as manufacturers and suppliers, designers and interior decorators should already adjust at an early date to the constantly growing importance of the Internet as a source of information and when shopping for furniture.

Further statistics on current economic developments in the German furniture industry are provided by a study of the "möbel kultur" magazine in connection with the associations of the wood and furniture industries of North Rhine-Westphalia. It analyses imports and exports according to industries, average prices and figures relating to personnel costs in Germany.

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