Sales of home furnishings in the U.S. are expected to shoot higher in the second quarter, with in-store sales increasing nearly 8% to $23.222 billion and online sales increasing 28.4%, according to an IBM analytics-based forecast. Combined in-store and online sales of home furnishings are expected to grow 16.6% in the second quarter.

IBM experts cite a number of important factors that could be driving purchases, including “Year of the Dragon” weddings and the trend toward accessorizing living spaces.

Online sales of home furnishings are expected to post a year-over-year increase of 30.7% in April, 25.9% in May and 29.1% in June, with sales for the quarter coming in at 28.4%. This forecast of online sales is based on real-time sales data from the web sites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers.

IBM retail and analytics experts see a number of important trends bolstering home furnishing sales:

  • The concept of “accessorizing” is moving from the apparel market to home furnishings as many homeowners during the past few years have decided to stay put rather than move
  • Homes are getting smaller, compelling consumers to “resize” their furnishings to accommodate smaller spaces
  • Disposable income is rising as more people go back to work
  • Rental activity is increasing.

“Consumers are opting to give their home a new-look by remodeling and accessorizing.  New towels, bedding or even a picture can really spruce up a room,” said Jill Puleri, global retail leader for IBM Global Business Services. “Retailers can benefit from this behavioral shift by considering product mix, promotion and presentation and by marketing home accessories aggressively. For example, for those customers who recently remodeled their kitchen – now might be the right time to target them with new dishes, hand towels, rugs, etc. – all of which complete the look.”

Puleri noted that the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which began on February 4, is shaping up to be especially popular year for weddings, which could also be boosting home furnishing sales.

[Source:  IBM Forecast conducted by IBM Global Business Services.  6 Apr. 2012.  Web.  13 Apr. 2012.]