DOC: Home furnishings sales decline for May, following pattern for all retail

While furniture and home furnishings sales dipped slightly in May, which mimicked the overall retail picture for the month, the category remained one of the strongest performers for 2021 in the Department of Commerce’s advance monthly report on retail sales.

Advanced estimates, which released on June 15, say furniture and home furnishings sales totaled $12.24 billion in May, down 2.1% from April’s preliminary estimate of $12.51 billion, but 2021’s $57.45 billion for the year is up 49.5% for the same period in 2020.

The May figures are 66.6% higher than May 2020. The numbers from March through May are 8.7% higher than the period from December 2020 through February 2021.

Overall, the DOC reported retail and food services total came in at $620.2 billion in May, which represents a 1.3% dip from April’s $628.7 billion total. For the year, the full retail picture sits at $2.91 trillion, up 23.9% from the same time frame in 2020. Retail’s three-month period from March to May is 11.9% higher than the preceding three-month period.

While the May picture isn’t the rosiest for retail overall, a few categories recorded sales increases in the month. Clothing and clothing accessories stores led the way with a 3% increase, while health and personal care stores and food services and drinking places each added 1.8% in the month. Food and beverage stores (up 1%) and gas stations (up 0.7%) were the only other categories to reverse the month’s trend.

Building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers showed the most marked decline in May of all segments, with 5.9% fewer sales compared to April, while miscellaneous store retailer (down 5%), motor vehicle and parts dealers (down 3.7%) and general retailers (down 3.3%) also showed notable declines.

The DOC’s advance estimates are based on a sub-sample of the U.S. Census Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is used to select approximately 5,500 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of more than 3 million retail and food services firms.

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