Rise of the home office usher boom time for UK furniture sales

Customers wearing protective masks shop for office furniture at IKEA. Photo: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
Customers wearing protective masks shop for office furniture at IKEA. Photo: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

Pent up demand and a more permanent shift in working habits following COVID-19 is due to drive the home office market in 2021, despite a decline in demand last year.

According to AMA Research, COVID-19 has had a serious impact on the home office furniture market in 2020. Despite a move to homeworking, demand for home office furniture is expected to have declined by 8% in 2020; however this can be contrasted with the 17% fall in the total office furniture market.

Workstations, desks and tables account for the largest proportion of the home office furniture market, with sales reaching an estimated £71m ($98m) in 2020, or 42% of the overall market value.

However, sales of seating products have shown most growth in recent years in both volume and value terms, with sales reaching £68m in 2020, or 40% of the market.

The enforcement of home working for many during 2020 has accelerated a trend towards more flexible multi-environment working that began over twenty years ago.

As companies and employees adjust to the benefits, and otherwise, of home working there is a reshaping of the market to accommodate changing consumer preferences for products and supply channels.

READ MORE: Global businesses rethink plans to ditch the office post-COVID

Laura Pardoe, product manager at AMA Research said: “This provides new opportunities for importers and also for those able to address the needs of compact, quality furniture designed to ergonomic principles, and able to work in a new supply model with businesses.”

Growth in the home office furniture market is expected to increase significantly in 2021, with pent up demand being released, as an increasing number of workers are told they can work remotely for some of the working week.

As a result, employees are likely to make their office furniture requirements more permanent, rather than using existing domestic furniture, which tended to be used during the uncertainty of the pandemic, AMA said.

Once this immediate demand is sated, the home office furniture market is expected to remain fairly static in the medium-term although further growth is expected in the small office sector, as firms create smaller regional hubs, to be used by employees on an ad hoc basis.

Major office rental firms have suffered badly during the current crisis, but their fortunes seem likely to be revived in the medium term, as more part time remote working becomes the new norm.

The research comes as businesses across the globe are reassessing plans to downsize their company’s physical footprint, with just 17% of executives looking to reduce office space as a result of the pandemic.

This compares to 69% of CEOs who said in August last year that they planned to reduce their office space over three years, highlighting a shift in strategy from survival to revival, according to a study by KPMG released on Tuesday morning.

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