The European furniture sector has expressed its concerns over the lack of a harmonised response across the EU to the coronavirus pandemic, reports the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC).

The confederation points out that alongside the challenges posed by the pandemic, the furniture and bedding industries also face reduced availability of raw materials, a considerable increase of raw material prices, and logistical bottlenecks, and that the disparate responses of EU member states in terms of lockdowns, border closures and slow vaccination programmes have exacerbated the production and delivery complications, as well as harming furniture sales.

The sector therefore welcomed the Commission’s communication on 17th March outlining a co-ordinated reopening in the Member States, as well as the EU leaders' agreement of 25th March for preparations towards a common approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions, with the aim of ensuring a co-ordinated effort when the epidemiological situation allows, as well as putting an emphasis on the unhindered flow of goods within the single market. 

The European furniture and bedding industry generates a yearly turnover of €96b and employs around one million workers in 120,000 enterprises across the EU, while the furniture retail sector there represents more than 100,000 companies. In 2020, furniture production across the EU-27 dropped by -7.4% YoY, as a general reduction of orders, imports, exports and turnover was reported throughout the year, with significant differences between the different market segments (home furnishings remained in high demand compared to contract furniture), while the furniture retail sector also suffered a noticeable drop in sales, says EFIC. 

The European furniture sector has asked the EU institutions and Member States' authorities to ensure: enhanced harmonisation with regard to a swift reopening; a swifter vaccine roll-out; an open single market, with no closed borders between the EU Member States, and a free movement of goods and services; and clear rules for the sector regarding the planning and organisation of European and international trade fairs.