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Factoids offer brief snapshots of current topics pertinent to the Furniture industry based on our on-going research. Increase your grasp of current trends, consumer attitudes, and shifts within the industry through solid statistics and concise insight.

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The Rise of E-Commerce in Furniture Manufacturing and the Merchant Wholesale Trade . Furniture and Home Furnishings Sales


This is the final factoid in a series of four factoids addressing the rise of e-commerce in  furniture manufacturing and the merchant wholesale trade. The Census Bureau defines manufacturers’ shipments to include “orders accepted for manufactured products from customers, including shipments to other domestic plants”. (See Methodology and Definitions in the first factoid of this series.)


Since the turn of the century, e-commerce has slowly climbed its way into the furniture and home furnishings merchant wholesale trade. Merchant wholesalers* weathered the recession well growing 43.8 percent in sales 2002 to 2014 to $76.9 billion while the e-commerce portion of those sales jumped 113 percent to $11.1 billion. MSBOs* total shipments at $21.0 billion in 2014 grew more slowly -- 17.3 percent 2002 to 2014. E-commerce shipments from merchant wholesalers alone have increased a yearly average of 7 percent, while furniture MSBO’s have increased by 3 percent.

Although increasing just 30 percent in e-commerce sales from furniture MSBOs over 12 years, e-commerce accounts for 21 percent of furniture and home furnishings MSBOs compared to other merchant wholesalers at 14 percent. As a percent of total shipments, e-shipment sales of both merchant wholesalers and MSBO’s have declined since 2011.

With more advanced websites and ordering portals that make it easier for a business to make purchases online, e-commerce should continue to grow as a key part of the furniture industry.

*Merchant Wholesalers are wholesalers who sell goods on their own account such as distributors, jobbers, drop shippers, import/export merchants, and MSBOs. Manufacturers’ Sales Branches and Offices (MSBOs) are establishments maintained by manufacturing, refining, or mining enterprises apart from their plants or mines for the purpose of marketing their products. Sales branches will typically carry inventories, while sales offices typically do not. – U.S. Census Bureau

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census, Annual Wholesale Trade Survey

**excludes MSBOs (Manufacturers’ Sales Branches and Offices)

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FastFact: E-Commerce Still Growing, But Not as Rapidly as Total Shipments
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