In March, the volume of furniture bought by consumers fell by -1.7% YoY, according to the latest report by the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM). The association's report, which explored furniture sales and retail price inflation as well as manufacture and factory gate costs for March, also revealed that although volume was down, the amount spent throughout the month rose slightly.

Mike Dimond, BFM's director of employment and membership, says: "The Beast from the East had an impact on March sales generally. However, and unexpectedly, the amount spent in the month represented an increase of +0.4% on an annual basis, although this is the worst performance in growth since August last year."

The survey also showed that the average retail price of furniture, including furnishings and imports, was up just +1.7% in the year to March 2018 - the lowest growth rate for 12 months.

The cost of materials and fuel rose for furniture manufacturers by +0.6%, making input costs +4.3% higher than a year ago and slightly up on the February annual rise of +4.2%. The price of imported products used in the manufacture of furniture has also risen by +2% since 2017. 

Mike adds: "The largest upward contribution to the annual rate for all businesses in March 2018 came from crude oil, which contributed 1.78% points to headline rate and had annual price growth of +11.6%, up from +9.1% last month."

The price of all UK furniture goods as they left the factory was up +2%, the same figure as the previous month. The most notable exception was wooden kitchen furniture, which showed an annual price growth of +9%.

"Our report also revealed that the output price growth is slowing for most sectors," says Mike.