November Sales Seesaw for Furniture, Appliance and CE Dealers

By Alan Wolf, YSN

November was a mixed bag for specialty retailers selling furniture, appliances and consumer electronics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales estimates, sell-through for furniture and home furnishings stores rose 3.6 percent in November compared to a year ago, but slipped 1.1 percent from October.

The figures were less rosy for the combined CE and appliance channel, which saw November sales slip 8.3 percent year over year and decline 3.5 percent from October.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, the downturn could be attributed to an exceptionally early start to the holiday selling season, the spike in coronavirus spread, and the absence of follow-up stimulus funds from Congress.

See: Retailers ‘Primed’ for Early Holiday Kickoff

 “The month-over-month decline isn’t surprising because some spending was pulled forward into October by campaigns encouraging consumers to shop early and shop safe,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz.

Added NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay, ““Consumers held back on spending in November as virus rates spiked, states imposed retail restrictions, and congressional stimulus discussions were gridlocked.”

That said, total retail sales excluding restaurants, gas stations and automotive dealers rose 7.1 percent in November and edged up 0.8 percent from October. Driving the gains were e-tailers and other direct sellers, who enjoyed a 29.2 percent spike in year over year sales last month. But even the e-commerce crowd fell flat month over month, with sales up only 0.2 percent from October.

All told, the NRF believes holiday sales, covering the period of Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, will rise between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent over last year, for a total seasonal take of between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.