China first producer of upholstered furniture

15 February 2019

by Giulia Taveggia, CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies – Milan, Italy

The upholstered furniture market accounts for about 16% of total world furniture consumption and it is worth around US$ 70 billion. Currently the largest markets are China, the United States and Germany. The openness of the North American markets to foreign products is a major structural phenomenon and it has also been the main growth engine for international trade in upholstered furniture in recent years.

In the period 2008-2017, world upholstered furniture consumption increased by 23% with Asian countries being the main drivers of the growth.
China, India and Indonesia are the most increasing markets for upholstered furniture across the area. The Asia and Pacific region is expected to be the fast growing area for upholstery consumption also in 2019. In particular, China, the world largest market, experienced an annual increase of 7% (2008-2017), reaching a value of over US$ 20 billion.
Upholstered furniture production is worth about US$ 74 billion, including about US$ 47 billion for local consumption in the manufacturing countries and about US$ 26 billion for exports, which constitute international upholstery trade.
Asia and Pacific is the main manufacturing area with a 54% share of world upholstered furniture production, followed by Europe, accounting for 21%. North America ranks third with an incidence of 15% on worldwide production. The other geographical areas hold marginal shares.
The production of upholstered furniture is highly concentrated in only 6 countries accounting for around 80% of total output. Major producing countries are China and – at a distance - the United States, Poland, India, Italy and Germany.
Production of upholstered furniture recorded a 14% growth compared in the period 2012-2017, increasing faster than the whole furniture production. World upholstery production development is the result of different performances across regions, with Asia and Pacific outperforming the other areas.
The US furniture industry continues to be very strong. The United States plays a central role in the upholstered furniture sector at a global level. Upholstered furniture is one of the fast-growing segments within the furniture industry. Upholstery carries considerably weight in the US furniture industry, accounting for nearly 20% of total national furniture production and consumption.
Upholstery consumption in the US experienced rapid growth after the global recession, recovering and even exceeding the pre-crisis value. Local market growth has bolstered the US upholstery furniture industry since 2009. In 2017 upholstery consumption in the US reached a total value of about US$ 17 billion, ranking second on a global level. Traditionally the US upholstery market has been an open market, depending considerably on import flows. About 40% of local upholstered furniture consumption is satisfied by imported products, making the US the first upholstered furniture importer in the world. In 2017 the United States imported for a value of about US$ 7 billion. Upholstery imports recorded an average annual growth of +11% between 2012 and 2017.
China accounts for more than 65% of total US upholstered furniture imports. Beside China, major US country partners for upholstery imports are Vietnam and Mexico.

 Upholstered furniture. Ten major producing countries, 2017
Source: CSIL 
 China. Upholstered furniture production, 2008-2017. US$ billion
Source: CSIL 

The article is based on the CSIL report ‘Upholstered Furniture: World Market Outlook 2019’, edition September 2018.
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