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rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM


Britain's house-builders are currently constructing homes with rooms smaller than in any other decade in the past century. But fear not, that shouldn't imperil furniture sales.


New research by LABC Warranty shows new-build living room sizes peaked in the 1970s at 24.89sqm. (268sqft.), with today's average 31 percent lower at 17.09sqm. (184sqft.)


living room changes
Living room sizes in 1970s (left) and today. Source: LABC Warranty


That could mean the difference between a family buying one sofa or two, so is this trend one for the furniture industry to worry about, as I've read elsewhere this weekend?


It is unlikely and based on flawed logic. We all need somewhere to sit and we all need somewhere to sleep which makes the furniture industry unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon.


Population size is a much more accurate indicator of whether the addressable market for furniture companies will contract or expand, with fashion and the economy factors that will influence the peaks and troughs within that overarching theme.


Britain's population in 2016 was 65.6 million and is forecast to reach 74 million by 2039, according to the Office for National Statistics.


But that doesn't mean smaller homes are an irrelevance. Quite the opposite. Every furniture company should be on top of changes in home structure as it is one of the key drivers behind not how much we sell, but of what we sell.


The emergence of small space living has been a tailwind for IKEA's growth here in the UK and has definitely impacted upholstery design, with more compact products being manufactured and many retailers now creating entire ranges around smaller designs.


It will even have been a boon for other emerging sectors, such as rolled, folded and boxed mattresses, which can more easily be carried up tight corridors and staircases as well as the ready-to-assemble sectors, with flatpack boxes more readily transportable to hard-to-reach parts of the home.


Rooms are getting smaller, but the market still has room to get larger.



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