U.S. furniture imports fell in the first half, a result of a double-digit drop in shipments from China due to tariffs on finished goods including wood furniture and upholstery.
Imports fell to $11.67 billion from $12.14 billion, in the first half of 2018, a 4% drop. This was fueled by a 17% decrease in shipments from China, which totaled $5.6 billion in the first half, compared with $6.7 billion the year before.
China fell in each of the top five product categories: miscellaneous wood furniture, down 19%; upholstered wood seats, down 21%; upholstered wood chairs, down 13%; outdoor seats with textile covered cushions, down 22%; and furniture of other materials, down 19%.
Double-digit increases from source countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia failed to stem those losses, which were further heightened due to decreased shipments from Italy and Poland.
Vietnam’s shipments rose 29% during the period to $2.47 billion from $1.91 billion, which helped retain its No. 2 spot on the list of top 10 source countries. This figure included wood furniture shipments, but also upholstery shipments in both stationary and motion furniture as resources have shifted those categories from China.
For example, Vietnam’s shipments of wooden bedroom furniture rose 13%, while its shipments of miscellaneous wood furniture — including occasional and home entertainment — rose 36%. Shipments of wood beds rose 16%, and shipments of upholstered chairs with wooden frames rose 67%. Shipments of wood dining tables rose 24% during the period.
Malaysia also became more important as a furniture resource. Holding the No. 5 spot on the list, its shipments rose 13% to $409.6 million from $362.8 million. This was partly fueled by enhancements in the RTA category, including bedroom made with high quality laminates.
Malaysia’s top five categories included: wood furniture, up 52%; upholstered household seating with wood frames, up 20%; wood kitchen furniture, up 39%; wood dining tables, up 11%; and miscellaneous wood furniture, up 165% to $1.8 million, from $668,639.
Shipments from Canada totaled $642.3 million, up 2% from $630.5 million last year, while shipments from Mexico totaled nearly $572 million, up 4% from $547.5 million last year.
In the No. 6 spot after Malaysia was Italy. Its shipments totaled $401.6 million, down 5% from
$421.6 million in the first half of 2018, while shipments from Indonesia (at No. 7) rose 5% to $369.4, from $353 million.
India, meanwhile shipped $176.8 million in furniture to the U.S. market in the first half, a 5% increase from $168.3 million in 2018, while Poland’s shipments fell 19% to $140.4 million, from $172.6 million in 2018.
Taiwan’s shipments rose 8% to $105.9 million, from $98.3 million in 2018. This is due largely to its expertise in metal and glass furniture, including dining and occasional tables and consoles with glass tops and stainless steel bases.
While it tends to be more expensive than China, Taiwan’s capabilities with such materials has made it a viable alternative to China as countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia have not yet gotten up to speed in these categories.
Despite the tariffs, China has retained some of that business as sources have been reluctant to move products that might experience quality issues and shipping delays that would negate the benefit of any cost savings.