Establishments in this industry are primarily engaged in the retail sale of miscellaneous home furnishings, such as china, glassware, and metal ware for kitchen and table use; bedding and linen; brooms and brushes; lamps and shades; mirrors and pictures; venetian blinds; and window shades. Establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of miscellaneous home furnishings by house-to-house canvas or by party-plan merchandising are classified in SIC 5963: Direct Selling Establishments.
442291 (Window Treatment Stores)
442299 (All Other Home Furnishings Stores)
Businesses involved in the sale of miscellaneous home furnishings are as varied as the goods they sell to consumers. They offer everything needed to furnish a home from kitchenware to linens, and lamps and shades to venetian blinds and window shades.
Three factors have contributed to the steady demand of home furnishings: increased housing activity, growth in real disposable personal income, and declining consumer debt. Also contributing to the success of home furnishings sales was the fact that they could be purchased seemingly anywhere. Discount stores, as well as department stores, stock a wide variety of items for the consumer, and their prices vary with the brand name and the type of store that sells them. Of the several different types of retailers that sell home furnishings, one of the fastest growing was the specialty retailer that attracts upscale consumers. These stores may be independent operators or part of a chain and provide quality merchandise with moderate price tags. However, price is not all that attracts customers. Specialty retailers tend to carry unusual and distinctive items that attract consumers who can't find them anywhere else.
Independently owned specialty stores, which held the sales-per-square foot crown with a median of $339, were as varied as the products they sell—whether it's cutlery, pottery, lamps, lampshades, window treatments, draperies, or kitchenware. Consumers find such stores in shopping centers and malls, along commercial highways, or in country towns and back road, cottage-style boutiques. Because home furnishings cover such a broad spectrum of products and prices, and because modern distribution methods bring items manufactured halfway around the world to the smallest American town, this industry continues to perform well.
Growth in sales of furniture and other household equipment was steady during the 1990s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales figures for each year between 1984 and 1997 never varied by more than 10 percent. In 1997, there were approximately 18,661 miscellaneous home furnishings stores, which employed an estimated 135,359 people and had sales of $14.3 billion.
By 2001, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 17,384 establishments engaged in the retail sale of miscellaneous home furnishings. There were some 174,026 people working within this industry with an annual payroll of $2.7 billion. The total number of home furnishings retailers had risen to 24,059 in 2003, according to D&B Sales & Marketing Solutions, but there were fewer employees, with 151,371. That year, the average sales per store were about $1.1 million. The home furnishings industry posted $78 billion in sales for 2002. States that accounted for the majority of retail stores and market share were California with 3,327, Texas with 2,024, Florida with 1,965, and New York with 1,553. Together, they shared more than 36 percent of the overall market.
Kitchenware accounted for the majority of the market in total number of stores, as well as in market share. There were 2,460 stores that sold kitchenware, accounting for more than ten percent of the market. Miscellaneous home furnishings stores numbered 2,316; house wares, not elsewhere classified, had 2,188; pottery had 1,829; window furnishings had 1,465; lighting, lamps, and accessories numbered 1,138; and bedding, including sheets, blankets, spreads, and pillows, numbered 1,343. Combined, they controlled more than 42 percent of the market.
The overall industry remained fragmented with a lot of opportunity for growth. Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, predicted a five percent increase in the home furnishings industry for 2004, due in part to the strong housing market.
Dollar General Stores, Inc. dominated the market with recorded sales of $1.8 billion for 2002. The company opened a total of 622 new stores during that same year. Bed Bath & Beyond planned on opening approximately 85 new stores, with each retailing about $160 to $185 per square foot. For 2003, the company posted $3.7 billion in combined sales by its 581 existing stores. Linens 'n Things generated $552.8 million that year. According to Retail Traffic, Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things together accounted for about seven percent of the market. Kirkland's, Cost Plus World Market, and Pier 1 Imports combined made up five percent of the market. Bombay Company, located in Fort Worth, Texas, had also been posting positive results with sales of $596.4 million in 2003, which $29.8 million were derived from online and mail order sales. Another leading company was Michael"s Stores, Inc. with sales of $177.8 million for 2003.
Mass merchandisers had also been gaining a lot of the home furnishings market. For example, Costco, with its Costco Home store, like other mass merchandisers can offer its merchandise at lower prices since the company can purchase merchandise in larger quantities from vendors.
According to the Market Share Reporter, gift specialty stores or chains accounted for 34.37 percent of the retail accessory sales in 2002. Discount department stores represented 13.54 percent; home accent specialty stores had 12.5 percent; mail order, the Internet, or TV had 10.42 percent; department stores had 6.25 percent; furniture stores or chains had 5.21 percent; home improvement centers had 4.17 percent; and all other markets shared 13.54 percent.
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Bombay Company, June 2004. Available from http://www.bombayco.com .
D&B Sales & Marketing Solutions, June 2004. Available from http://www.zapdata.com .
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——. "Pier 1 Beats Pack with Strong 4Q." Home Textiles Today, April 21, 2003. Available from http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/HomeTextilesToday/2003/04/21/267054 .
Lazich, Robert S. Market Share Reporter. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2004.
Lillo, Andrea. "Home Store Influence Across Costco." Home Textiles Today, December 22, 2003. Available from http://www.deepmedia.com/pubs/HomeTextilesToday/2003/12/22/340945 .
Michael's Stores, Inc. June 2004. Available from http://www.michaels.com .
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U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics of U.S. Businesses 2001, June 2004. Available from http://www.census.gov/epcd/susb/2001/us/US421420.HTM .