Nationwide Marketing Group Furniture Director Johnny Lamp recently provided a great overview of the tariff issue and explains the varying approaches vendors and retailers are taking in their response. However, I want to take a moment to share some data that puts the issue in perspective as it relates to the entire industry.
First, about 35% of retail sales of furniture and mattresses were imported from China, and about 3% from Mexico. This leaves a balance of roughly 62% that is not affected by the tariff discussion. In addition, U.S. furniture and mattress production totals over $22 billion, but subtract out exports, and only about $20 billion is domestically consumed. Chinese imports are about $19 billion, so the actual balance is about 50/50 import to domestic.
The media and pundits are projecting a story that the furniture industry is highly dependent on China, but it is only 50% of the business. Production is moving to Vietnam and other Asian countries, but they are challenged to handle the logistics, labor and infrastructure to absorb all the demand. As a result, the majority of China tariff increases will work its way through the supply network.
Nationwide vendors consist of a blend of domestic and import suppliers delivering a variety of price points and style. China represents 31% of the wood furniture and 29% of upholstered furniture sold nationally, and these are represented in our programs. At the end of the day, consistent quality, design and order flow is what members count on to deliver a good experience for their customers.
In summary, the top Nationwide retail performers choose vendor partners carefully, are loyal to build volume and importance, and promote and grow them for mutual success. In most cases, this is done with a blend of domestic and import supply chains to bring value locally.
Jerry Honea is the senior vice president of furniture and bedding at Nationwide Marketing Group