Twenty consecutive months of year-on-year furniture retail sales growth is not to sniffed at, writes The Furnishing Report editor Richard de Melim.

Last month, sales in the category were up 2.6 per cent compared with January 2015, meaning the last fall came all the way back in May 2014.

That is great news.

And yet, those of a glass-half-empty disposition might be starting to worry the tide is turning, and not for the better.

Not only was January’s rise the 20th in a row, it was also the weakest rate of growth over that entire timespan.

A momentary slowdown? Perhaps, though January’s rise means sales have trended up in low single-digits in three of the past six months.

Compare that with the 14 months immediately prior, when sales were up in high single-digits* or double-digits in every single month bar one (December 2014: +4.4pc).

Global stock markets have been turbulent in the early part of 2016 though it would a be a push to suggest this is having a major impact on UK consumer sentiment.

But the EU Remain/Leave vote is a different story altogether. Uncertainty is likely to impact consumer discretionary spend on big-ticket household goods. It will be quite an achievement if furniture sales remain positive throughout 2016 or even until the summer.

* 5% or more

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