Furniture retail sales fall in March; flooring lays down some growth

Furniture retail sales fell on both an annual and monthly comparison during March.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the value of furniture and lighting sales fell 20% to £1.04bn from £1.3bn against March 2019. Sales were also down by 3.7% from £1.08bn compared to the previous month.

Flooring sales had another mixed month. Compared to March last year, sales fell 11.6% from £136.8m to £120.9m. However, in comparison to the previous month, sales increased 7.4% from £112.5m.

Overall, the value of total retail sales during March fell 6% to £38bn year-on-year, while the volume of retail sales also down by 5.8%, the largest drop recorded since the data series began, due to shop closures following Covid-19.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing reached a record high of 22.3% in March 2020 as consumers switched to online purchasing following the pandemic.

Commenting on the retail sales figures, ONS Head of Retail Sales Rhian Murphy said: “Retail sales saw their biggest monthly fall since records began over 30 years ago with large declines in clothing and fuel, only partially offset by strong food sales.

“Online-only retailers saw strong growth though, with many high street stores also unsurprisingly seeing a boost to web sales.”