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retail sales thumbSales volumes in the furniture industry were up double-digits for a third successive month in April and you have to go back to May last year for the last year-on-year decline.


Is the furniture industry booming again? Well, despite the statistical evidence, probably not quite yet.


The rises of recent months are likely to reflect the continued impact of Christmas and early New Year, with many orders placed then only recently having made their way into customers' homes and on to the sales ledger.


Everything we are being told in recent weeks points to the market having cooled over Easter with retailers managing to match, or only slightly better, year-earlier trade.


ScS — now trading its shares on the London Stock Exchange — even went as far as to say that order intake was down 15.9 per cent over the four weeks to 2nd May in a city trading update.


We don’t think that reflects the wider market, and you could argue that the silence from DFS — also now listed — would back that up.


Nonetheless, a growth slowdown is likely to filter through to weaker year-on-year delivered sales data from the Office for National Statistics over the summer months.


The ONS data suggests year-on-year sales have risen for 11 months in a row. In value terms, ONS says those 11 months have gleaned an average of £1.06bn in furniture sales per month.


Roll back the clock seven years (11 months to April 2008) and ONS reckons the average monthly sales value was £971m, 9 per cent lower than today.


However, factor in inflation and the 2008 figures would be worth the equivalent of £1.2bn, putting today’s market still 12 per cent short of pre-recession levels.


Furniture retailers are definitely heading in the right direction, but are by no means at the end of the journey just yet.