The new annual mid-year statistics digest from the Furniture Industry Research Association reveals a decline in exports, which subdues an overall positive growth performance by UK furniture manufacturers in 2019.

Based on the latest information available from the UK Government for 2019, there is a suggestion that the performance of the furniture industry grew overall by +2.03%, with home performance remaining strong at +4.29% compared to 2018, continuing an upward trend. However, exports decreased by -17.79% compared with the high of 2018, falling back to Q2 2017 levels.

Q3 2019 is highlighted as the start of a notable downturn in furniture exports. Two probable factors identified by the association was the uncertainty caused by Brexit combined with the General Election in early December.

While the main focus of the mid-year stats digest is for 2019, its author, Bruce Lovell, consultant at FIRA International, also examines preliminary data in Q1 2020, a date range which includes figures from the beginning of lockdown which was implemented on the evening of 23rd March.

Speaking on these figures, Bruce says: “Q1 2020 shows a dramatic reduction in furniture exports, being -48.98% when compared with Q1 2019. Comparing this same period, we also see home performance reducing -5.5%. However we must bear in mind that this data analysis might be skewed slightly as the data range includes the start of lockdown, which shut down non-essential shops, closed whole industry sectors, as well as many borders and export routes.

“I’ll be eager to examine the Q2 2020 figures, when available. Online retail was purported to be buoyant during lockdown, with many consumers seemingly investing in the home and garden. Time will tell as to how far these purchases will help to stabilise the industry.”

The full mid-year statistics digest is available here.

January 2021 will see the publication of the in-depth Statistical Digest for the UK Furniture Industry, giving the complete picture for 2019, alongside preliminary figures for 2020.