From a lack of shipping containers to evolving buyers’ habits, the furniture industry is experiencing a lot of changes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The logistical problems and shortage of raw materials are expected to be short-term headaches, and businesses should return to pre-pandemic levels. However, many consumers believe that their buying habits have permanently changed.
Types of Consumer Behavior
According to a recent poll, four consumer segments emerged during the pandemic:
- Stopped Buying
- Maintained / No Changes
- Saved and Stockpiled
- Increased Spending
The majority, over 60%, were cautious of the future yet confident that they would still have a job and regular income. Almost 30% spent less across all categories, and around 10% were spending more. The categories most affected by these behaviors were clothing and leisure activities, whereas the furniture industry experienced a substantial increase.
Demand for home and home office furniture was driven by people working from home and travel restrictions. Brick and mortar showrooms were down 70%, but the boom of online furniture sales and a need to replace old furniture outpaced expectations.
Changes in Furniture Purchasing Behavior
Another interesting thing from this study found that many consumers felt their buying habits changed due to the pandemic. Going forward, how they shop and what they will buy are based upon the following criteria:
Online orders for all furniture categories increased 80% during the pandemic. Unable to go to a physical store, people were confident that their online purchases would fit their need to replace old furniture and modify their living spaces. This indicates a culture shift from the need to touch and feel before purchasing big-ticket items to trusting online reviews and thorough product descriptions.
Also, with this significant change is the need for more personalized online engagement. Consumers expect to get their questions answered and make their purchases quickly. Poor online experiences will result in higher customer migration.
Consumers want to know more about the brands they are buying. They will be asking more for purposeful brands that are environmentally conscious and doing good for society. Best of all, they are willing to pay more for these brands. To meet these needs, furniture stores will need to have more information about the brands they sell and train their sales staff to be more informed.
- Local / Domestic Products
The disruptions in the supply chain have prompted many people to search for local or domestically produced furniture and accessories. These tend to be more expensive brands, but they are willing to pay for them.
Cues from the Latest Data
The furniture industry has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past year, with fewer twists and turns to be expected in the near future. Being attuned to consumer purchasing behavior may require slight changes to store operations. These cues from recent data will allow you to run a more balanced business and be more competitive.