Sunday Read: What Unbought Sofas Tell Us About the Economy


“With the housing market, it’s definitely a trickle-down effect,” says [Nancy] Hsieh […] Easy Life [Furniture]’s marketing exec. “Money is tight. People aren’t spending it.”

When was the last time you went shopping for furniture? Whoa, THAT long?! Well, you’re not alone. According to new data from the Census Bureau, furniture and furnishing store sales grew just 1 percent last year. Apparently, this is the worst showing since the recession-plagued year of 2001.
In 2006, California statewide furniture and furnishing store sales were up 1.5 percent… Not all that great when contrasted with 7.1 percent growth back in 2005. And here in Orange County, similar store sales in 2006 were down 2 percent after rising 7.5 percent in ’05.

OK, so why are we talking furniture sales this morning? Take a look at why people aren’t buying furniture. The housing market has tanked, so people aren’t buying new furniture for the new home. The real estate slump has led to a weaker job market here, so fewer folks have less disposible income for new furniture. Times are tougher now, so more people are having more difficulty parting from their paycheck over unnecessary impulse buys.

Basically, all those unbought sofas at the going-out-of-business furniture store having a final liquidation sale do tell a story about the state of our economy. The real estate slump and overall economic weakness are having real world effects. Are you seeing them? Have you seen your local furniture store close? And really, how long has it been since you last bought new furniture?

Think about it.