Where does the furniture industry stand?
VDM: Annual Business Press Conference 2021
The annual business press conference of the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM / VHK) took place on August 23, 2021. Its managing director Jan Kurth reported at the event on the economic development of the furniture industry in the first half of 2021 and also gave a forecast for the year as a whole.
For the second year in a row, the German furniture industry is experiencing extremely volatile business development due to Corona, according to VDM / VHK managing director Kurth. The second, several-month lockdown since mid-December 2020 led to a massive deterioration in the order situation for manufacturers. With the closure of the furniture stores, the main sales channel broke away for months in the otherwise busiest time of the year. Many companies had to register short-time working.
Sales growth of 4.3 percent in the first half of 2021
Nonetheless, the German furniture industry proved to be robust: From January to June 2021, manufacturers' sales amounted to around 8.4 billion euros - an increase of 4.3 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. In view of the long phase of the trade closings, domestic sales developed only slightly positively at plus 1.5 percent.
In contrast, foreign sales in the German furniture industry rose sharply by 10.6 percent in the first half of 2021. The export business benefited from the decline in infection rates in important European export markets, the earlier lifting of lockdown measures compared to Germany, the gradual reduction of international travel restrictions and the trade agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
When evaluating these results, however, reference must be made to the extremely weak figures from the previous year - due to the first wave of pandemics, sales of German furniture manufacturers plummeted by 10.2 percent in the first half of 2020. Domestic sales fell by 8.6 percent and foreign sales by 13.4 percent. To make a comparison with the pre-crisis year 2019: In the first half of 2021, the industry is still 6.3 percent below the sales level of the first half of 2019.
Significant differences between the individual segments
There were considerable differences in sales in the individual segments. According to official statistics, kitchen furniture manufacturers recorded a strong increase in sales of 16.3 percent to around 2.8 billion euros. The manufacturers of upholstered furniture also registered an above-average increase, their sales from January to June 2021 increasing by 17.5 percent to around 500 million euros.
Even the smallest segment of the industry - the mattress industry - showed a sales increase of 3.5 percent to around 363 million euros. The sales development in the largest segment of the furniture industry - other furniture (including living room, dining and bedroom furniture) as well as furniture parts - turned out to be more negative than the industry average at minus 5.8 percent to 2.8 billion euros.
The office furniture industry recorded another 0.3 percent decline in sales of around 960 million. The manufacturers of shop and other contract furniture were 4.4 percent above the previous year's figure and achieved sales of around 867 million euros.
With the current order situation, light and shadow are close together. According to internal surveys by the trade associations, incoming orders in the German kitchen furniture industry rose by 13.3 percent in the first six months of 2021. In the upholstered furniture industry, however, a decrease of 6.6 percent was registered and in the home furniture industry even a significant decrease of nine percent.