The UK furniture market remained largely stagnant over the six year period to 2012, recording a value worth £19.1 billion, virtually the same as in 2006.
The market grew in 2006-2007, but growth was interrupted by the economic downturn. Consumer spending on large items such as household appliances, electronics and furniture fell significantly due to the country's sluggish economic performance.
Continued under-par economic growth and uncertainty in the housing market is likely to undermine sales growth for the furniture industry. Consumer spending is expected to remain subdued, as household budgets shrink as a result of rising inflation, increased tax burdens and rising costs of food and petrol.
The industry has a high proportion of micro and small to medium size businesses. Only 290 companies report turnovers in excess of £5 million and 83% of companies turn over less than £1 million per year; 56% less than £250,000. This pattern is reflected in employment figures with 78% of companies employing less than ten people, while only 35 companies employ more than 250.
Despite its contribution to the UK economy, furniture manufacturing suffers from lack of recognition at a political level. The industry has no traditional regional hub, with manufacturing spread across the country.
As a consequence, and with much industry support now targeted on a regional basis, it is considered that the industry does not secure the support and influence from government that is appropriate for its size and contribution to the economy.
The future of the UK furniture industry is rather positive. Consumers will tend to renew their homes much more frequently than they used to, and therefore demand for cheap yet stylish furniture will increase. While carpets or sofas used to be kept for a couple of decades, such items are currently replaced after a few years.
For more information on the UK furniture market, see the latest research: UK Furniture Market
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