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Export decline knocks back furniture manufacturers growth

factory 2529579 640UK furniture manufacturers saw strong growth last year, but saw exports decline significantly.

The annual mid-year statistics digest from FIRA says domestic sales grew by 4.29% compared with 2018, but a 17.79% drop in exports reduced overall growth to 2.03%.

The decline in exports wiped out all the growth seen since Q2 2017.

The third quarter of 2019 is highlighted as the start of a notable downturn in furniture exports. Two probable factors identified were the uncertainty caused by Brexit combined with the general election, according to Bruce Lovell, the report’s author.

Lovell has also looked at preliminary data for the first quarter of this year, which shows a large drop in exports and a fall in domestic sales.

‘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,’ he says.

‘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.’