Furniture, Germany: 2023 more complicated than expected

A difficult season. That 2023 would be marked by a “minus sign” had been widely predicted, but the figures for the first half of the year have led Vdm, the association of the German furniture industry, to further downgrade its expectations for the current year.

According to the association’s statistics, in fact, orders received by German furniture manufacturers are in some cases ‘significantly lower’ than the previous year. “In view of the difficult market environment, we are revising our forecasts for 2023 downwards and now assume a decline in sales”, explained Jan Kurth, managing director of Vdm. A decline and a situation that – according to forecasts – will also persist in the coming year.

According to surveys carried out by the German trade association, in the first seven months of this year German home furniture manufacturers recorded a drop in the value of incoming orders of around 12 per cent compared to the same period last year. The upholstered furniture industry suffered losses of around 10 per cent. In the kitchen furniture industry, the value of incoming orders was 2 per cent lower than in the previous year.

According to official statistics, from January to June 2023 the approximately 430 German furniture manufacturers (with more than 50 employees) recorded a turnover of EUR 9.5 billion, down 0.2 per cent year-on-year. “In our view, this decline does not adequately reflect the real market situation“, said Kurth. “The necessary price adjustments, the order backlog from the previous year and statistical effects, e.g. due to an increase in late registrations due to project delays, are decisive for the relatively moderate decline in sales so far, given the weak order situation. Against the background of a significant drop in demand, domestic sales decreased by 1.2 per cent. In contrast, foreign sales of the German furniture industry increased slightly by 2 per cent”.

A situation that highlights profound differences between the various sectors of the German furniture industry. According to official statistics, the kitchen furniture industry recorded a 6.7 per cent increase in turnover in the first half of 2023 to almost EUR 3.5 billion, which according to the furniture associations is considerably overstated due to the economic situation.
In contrast, manufacturers of upholstered furniture recorded a slight drop in sales of 0.1 per cent to approximately 580 million euro. The sales trend in the most important segment of the furniture industry – other furniture (including living room, dining room and bedroom furniture) and furniture components – fell by 9.6 per cent (EUR 3 billion), significantly more negative than the industry average. The smallest segment of the industry, the mattress segment, finally recorded a significant drop in turnover of 19.3 per cent to approximately 270 million Euro.

In contrast to the pandemic, the capital goods segments of the furniture industry have shown a more dynamic economic trend than the consumer goods segments since the beginning of the year. The office furniture sector recorded growth of 8.4 per cent with a turnover of approximately EUR 1.2 billion. The manufacturers of shop and other contract furniture exceeded the previous year’s value by 6.6 per cent and achieved a turnover of approximately one billion Euro.

A look at foreign markets reflects the effects of the war in Ukraine, high energy prices and the appreciation of the euro. In most European countries, sales fell against a background of high inflation, reduced purchasing power and declining construction activity. In the ranking of the most important export markets, France remains in first place with a slight decline of 3.1 per cent to almost EUR 700 million, followed by Switzerland and Austria. Particularly pleasing in this context is the increase of German furniture exports to Switzerland with a plus of 7 per cent to approximately 660 million euros. Exports to Austria decreased by 8.4 per cent to a good EUR 510 million”, the press release stated.

Export markets outside Europe developed differently. In the first half of the year, German furniture exports to the US fell by 11.5 per cent compared to the same period last year. This decline must be put into perspective in the context of the significant appreciation of the euro against the US dollar. German furniture exports to China decreased slightly by 3.8 per cent. By contrast, the Persian Gulf export markets developed extremely positively from the point of view of the German furniture industry. Exports to the United Arab Emirates increased by 86 per cent in the first half of the year. The traditional hub for the entire Near and Middle East thus recorded the highest growth rate among the most important export markets of the German furniture industry.

Furniture, Germany: 2023 more complicated than expected ultima modifica: 2023-08-22T13:43:20+00:00 da Francesco Inverso