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Americans are buying a whole lot of furniture

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Couches in a showroom.

Furniture sales climbed in January as people made themselves more comfortable at home. Getty Images

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Home furnishing sales shot up 7.2% month over month in January, not adjusting for inflation. Sales are also up since last year, according to the Commerce Department. Overall, the pandemic has been a boon to makers of sofas and desks and kitchen cabinets. But aren’t those the types of goods you’re supposed to buy every few years … not every year?

Allison Orwig, like a lot of older millennials, said the pandemic kind of nudged her into full-fledged adulthood. Last year, the 36-year-old had twins and bought a bigger home in rural Indiana. Which required new furniture.

“It’s time to grow up with the furniture to match the house,” she said.

Growing up meant dropping more than $10,000 on a dining room table and patio set and bookshelves that make for a less embarrassing Zoom background. “The shelves are not eventually going to start sagging like the old ones did because they were pressed cardboard from a big-box store,” Orwig said.

Replacing shoddier furniture is partly what’s sustaining our home improvement binge two years into the pandemic. That includes the emergency furniture we bought in 2020.

“If you moved or started working from home for the first time during the pandemic, you may have had stopgap purchases that were not a perfect solution,” Brad Thomas, an analyst with KeyBanc, said.

There are headwinds coming for the industry, though. Post-omicron travel plans may dent furniture budgets, and supply chains are causing monthslong gaps between order and delivery. 

But Joe Derochowski with the NPD Group thinks the demand will stick. “Your eye immediately gravitates towards ‘I should update that’ or ‘I should change this.’ It’s kind of like eating a potato chip. Once you have one, it’s hard to just stop at one,” he said.

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