A furnishing boom, driven by hospitality
The furnishing sector is alive, well and growing, driven by the hospitality sector, to which Italian-made goods contribute in the luxury segment, which is developing rapidly on Asian markets. This is the picture that emerges from new figures which give a snapshot of the world market. According to the latest report from Italy’s Light Industry Study Centre (CSIL), the value of this market at production prices was 425 billion dollars (or 362 billion euros) in 2017, an increase on 2016, with a growth of 3.5% is forecast for 2018.
Italian furniture sector firms recorded a total turnover in excess of 16 billion euros in 2017 (+2.4% on 2016). Some 17,500 firms operate in Italy’s furniture sector, employing more than 127,600. The average size of the company workforce is 7.3.
On a world scale, Italy once again ranked third for exports by value in 2017, behind China and Germany. Furniture sales on foreign markets account for over 58% of total turnover, worth 9.4 billion euros (up 3.5% on 2016).
Although France and Germany are still the main recipient countries (with 16% and 10% of total exports respectively), exports to non-EU countries almost doubled compared to those to countries inside the European Union, thanks mainly to good performances on the US and Chinese markets (with shares of 10% and 5% respectively), while demand from Russia and Middle East countries remains weak.
As for the contract furnishings sector, the European market once again grew significantly, with a growth of 2% in 2017: the second best performance since 2011. According to CSIL, the main segments this growth were hospitality, the nautical sector (especially cruise ships) and catering.
Furnishings for the hospitality sector proved to be a major driving force behind the European contract market, which covers more than 20% of the total. A similar trend can be observed from an analysis of the furniture and furnishings market for the hospitality industry on a worldwide scale.
A weak importer (most imports come from China, which accounts for 27% of the total), Italy is one of the world’s biggest exporters of furnishings. Even if since 2006, the last year in which it ranked top, it has conceded first place to an all-conquering China, slipping from a world share of 16% in 2000 to just 7% in 2017, it has managed to maintain its leading position at the high end, where it has a 30% market share.
The luxury sector is on top form: a study by ApacMarket suggests it will stand at 5.5 billion dollars in 2020 (4.7 billion euros), with hospitality accounting for the biggest rise rather than sales in the residential and homes sectors. This is also thanks to the huge growth in the Chinese middle classes, and that country’s massive tourism boom.
So things are looking good for Italy, a country in which design and furnishings, as well as occupying an important place in the country’s balance of trade, are (along with fashion and food) among the main communication vehicles of Italian lifestyle around the world.