Fact sheet on the damaged consumer purchasing experience

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Various data suggests that the demand for home furnishings — furniture, bedding and accessories—during the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly increased the furniture industry's already notable rate of growth. With people spending more time indoors, there has been a pronounced shift in focus towards creating comfortable and functional living spaces. This surge in demand has not only solidified the industry's robust growth but has also prompted a reevaluation of living spaces for both practical and aesthetic reasons.

Key insights

Combined sales for the top 100 furniture retailers in 2021 reached $61.1 billion, showing a 24.9% increase from 2020, according to a Furniture Today report.

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The company’s list does not include Wayfair and Overstock because they don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. Those two online sellers have annual revenues estimated at $16 billion.

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The top three companies in its list are Ashley; Williams-Sonoma, the parent company of Pottery Barn and West Elm; and Ikea.

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Consumer sentiment over the years

In an analysis of a decade of consumer star ratings for the best-known sellers, negative consumer sentiment has increased precipitously. The six companies we looked at are:

  • Ashley Furniture, the top retailer in the country, according to Furniture Today’s annual report on the top 100 furniture stores
  • West Elm and Pottery Barn, subsidiaries of Williams-Sonoma
  • Ikea
  • Wayfair 
  • Overstock

Among the most recent star ratings, these six furniture sellers earned a poor-to-positive-ratings ratio of about 10-to-1, with 1-3 stars deemed poor and 4-5 stars positive.

Domestic furniture manufacturing vs. import

Our research sampled five furniture retailers that market their products as “Made in USA” and found that they generally earned a higher percentage of positive consumer star ratings.

Although these companies stressing domestic manufacturing also experienced a decline in sentiment during Covid, they were less likely to generate complaints about shipping delays and had far fewer dissatisfied consumers.

Top 9 retailers

These nine furniture sellers are the most recognizable to consumers, and have generally earned poor recent reviews. How poor? We looked at the star ratings attached to reviews left on the ConsumerAffairs website over the recent 12-month period from October 2021 to September 2022. All nine averaged 1- to 1.5 stars.

Wayfair

U.S. sales: $13.7 billion

Wayfair.com was founded in Boston in 2002 by two longtime friends and billionaires, Niraj Shah and Steve Conine. While Wayfair's business started as online e-commerce in the United States, it expanded to international markets in 2008.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Wayfair published on ConsumerAffairs in 12-month period: 1.22

Ashley

U.S. sales: $6.34 billion

Owned by father and son team, Ron and Todd R. Wanek, the company manufactures and distributes home furnishings throughout the world. It opened its first store in 1997 and now has over 1,075 licensed and company-owned stores in 64 countries. Ashley offers an e-commerce program for its furniture stores. There are both corporate stores and independently owned stores licensed to sell furniture.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Ashley published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.22

Ikea

U.S. sales: $3.97 billion

The Swedish giant known for popularizing build-your-own minimalist modern furniture, Ikea (through its 12 franchisees) operates 389 stores in 32 countries, including 52 in the U.S. In 2021, Ikea U.S. increased its e-commerce business by nearly 30%, logging more than 581 million online visits, according to Furniture Today.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Ikea published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.18

West Elm

U.S. Sales: $2.23 billion

Owned by Williams-Sonoma, West Elm employs design decisions to make a positive impact on the environment, communities and customers. Today, 60% of its product sales contribute to at least one of its sustainability initiatives. Launched in 2002, nearly all products are designed in-house and are exclusive to the brand, which features a modern urban style.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of West Elm published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.19

Pottery Barn

U.S. Sales: $3.12 billion

An upscale subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn was founded in 1949 in Manhattan by brothers Morris and Paul Secon. It was acquired by William-Sonoma in 1986 and offers contemporary and rustic furniture styles. It features exclusive products, many of which are designed in-house and made in the U.S.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Pottery Barn published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.21

Overstock.com

U.S. Sales: $2.7 billion

Overstock.com was founded in 1999 by Utah businessman Patrick Byrne. Initially, the online site sold returned and surplus merchandise from other online businesses for a fraction of the original price. According to the company’s website, it was recognized in 2003 as Utah’s fastest-growing company. Overstock.com grew and now sells furniture, home decor and other new and closeout items.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Overstock published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.44

Big Lots

U.S. Sales: $1.84 billion

Big Lots is a publicly held discount retailer operating nearly 1,500 stores in 48 states. It offers value-priced merchandise from traditional and closeout channels, including furniture from recognized brand-name manufacturers or sold under its own brand. Big Lots can trace its beginnings to Columbus, OH in 1967 when Sol Shenk began the first of several precursor businesses making crazy closeout deals. Those early stores evolved into Big Lots.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Big Lots published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.36 

Rooms To Go

U.S. Sales: $2.7 billion

Rooms To Go is an American furniture store chain founded in 1991 by father and son Jeffrey and Morty Seaman. They opened the first Rooms To Go in Orlando, Florida and now have more than 200 stores in 11 states. It primarily offers American-made furniture, though some pieces are imported from overseas.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of Rooms to Go published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.46

La-Z-Boy

U.S. Sales: $1.63 billion

La-Z-Boy is headquartered in Monroe, Michigan, and was founded in 1927 by two cousins who created the first folding porch recliner. The next year they sold an upholstered version for indoor use. The company has 524 in-store galleries and also sells furniture online.

Average stars given on consumer reviews of La-Z-Boy published on ConsumerAffairs in 12 month period: 1.4

All sales totals are from Furniture Today or annualreports.com except when noted.

References

  1. trends.google.com (2024). Google Trends. Evaluated January 08, 2024 Link Here
  2. Top 100 U.S. Furniture Stores 2022.Evaluated January 08, 2024. Link Here

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