IBM forecast: Home furnishings to see big gains in Q2

ARMONK, N.Y. — An IBM analytics-based forecast released Thursday expects that sales of home furnishings in the United States will shoot higher in the second quarter, with in-store sales increasing nearly 8% to $23.2 billion and online sales increasing 28.4%.

Combined in-store and online sales of home furnishings are expected to grow 16.6% in the second quarter.

IBM experts cited a number of important factors that could be driving purchases, including “Year of the Dragon” weddings and the trend toward accessorizing living spaces.

According to Dr. Michael Haydock, chief scientist and retail analytics leader for IBM Global Business Services, April sales are expected to grow 7.3% over the same period last year, to $7.568 billion; May growth is forecasted at $7.825 billion, an 8% year-over-year rise; and June is expected to see an 8.7% rise to $7.829 billion.

Online sales of home furnishings are expected to post a year-over-year increase of 30.7% in April, 25.9% in May and 29.1% in June, with sales for the quarter coming in at 28.4%. This forecast of online sales is based on real-time sales data from the web sites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers, according to IBM.

IBM retail and analytics experts see a number of important trends bolstering home furnishing sales:

  • The concept of “accessorizing” is moving from the apparel market to home furnishings as many homeowners during the past few years have decided to stay put rather than move;

  • Homes are getting smaller, compelling consumers to “resize” their furnishings to accommodate smaller spaces;

  • Disposable income is rising as more people go back to work; and

  • Rental activity is increasing.

“Consumers are opting to give their home a new look by remodeling and accessorizing,” said Jill Puleri, global retail leader for IBM Global Business Services. “Retailers can benefit from this behavioral shift by considering their product mix, promotion and presentation and by marketing home accessories aggressively.”

Puleri noted that the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which began on Feb. 4, is shaping up to be especially popular year for weddings, which could also be boosting home furnishing sales.