Following the overall trend of recovery and positive growth in the Canadian economy, the furniture sector in Canada is a market with clear growth potential for U.S. manufacturers in the near-term. Canadian furniture retailers, trade show organizers, manufacturers associations, and American companies operating in Canada all speak positively of future prospects for the industry. Currently, the greatest opportunities for U.S. manufacturers exist in 3 recent trends, as outlined below.
State of the Market
Since the start of 2010, Ontario’s furniture market has been on the upswing. While U.S. furniture consumption has increased over the last six months, industry analysts have interpreted this as a proportional response to the recession. In Canada, however, the market is notably closer to prerecession performance levels, having avoided as sharp an economic downturn as its American counterpart. One U.S.-based manufacturer that has operated in Canada for over twenty years reports that, “business is still relatively strong in Canada,” reporting a 15% drop in sales in Canada during the recession, compared to 32% for domestic operations.
The furniture market contracted more than others during the recession. Often considered a luxury or otherwise non-essential purchase in a strained economy, furniture has traditionally been among the first sectors to suffer in a downturn and the last to rebound, as consumers commonly opt to put off furniture upgrades until market volatility subsides, and distributors are more reluctant to invest in inventory. While residential furniture sales bore the brunt of these losses, government procurement in Canada (furniture for schools, hospitals, and federal, provincial and municipal facilities) has remained strong, grossing about $25 million a year. With the overall economy recovering, the furniture market is expected to make similar gains in 2011, as consumers and organizations put through orders that were delayed.