When it Comes to Furniture, Consumers Willing to Splurge for Comfort

New sofa or sectional No. 1 item to indulge on
A woman shops for furniture

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, your furniture choices play a role in turning a house into a home. As such, consumers would be willing to spend more for certain types of furnishings than others, and some would even take on debt to do so, a new survey shows.

ImproveNet, a platform that connects consumers with home improvement professionals, surveyed 1,850 adults between the ages of 18 to 68 about the choices they made when it came to buying furniture.

Respondents varied on how happy they were with their current furnishings. While 24% said they were happy with most or all of their furnishings, 53% said they were pleased with some aspects of how their house was furnished and another 23% said they were pleased with very little of the way their house was furnished.

Regardless of how happy they were with their current furnishings, certain patterns emerged from the survey about how consumers like to shop for furniture. Most consumers (84%) buy new furniture while 16% buy used furniture.

When it comes to costs, consumers were most willing to spend more for quality and style if the item brought them comfort. The No. 1 item respondents said they would splurge for was a sofa or sectional followed by a mattress. Rounding out the top five items consumers would spend more on were televisions, refrigerators and dining room sets.

Some consumers were also willing to spend more for furniture than they currently had on hand. In fact, 44% said they chose deferred payment programs, or made an arrangement to pay for the item at a later time, on large items of furniture. On top of that, 19% of respondents said they currently had furniture-related debt. The average amount owed by those consumers was $1,350. While most respondents buy their furniture outright, 18% said they have rented furniture at least once before.

Furniture shoppers get the most inspiration about what to buy from in-store displays, where 38% of respondents cited getting ideas from. That was followed by social media, cited by 30%, television shows, cited by 15%, friends and family, cited by 12%, and interior designers, cited by 5%.

Respondents were also most likely to go to a brick-and-mortar store to buy their furniture, with 74% shopping for furniture in-person and 26% saying they shop for furniture online.

The study also looked at data from the American Consumer Expenditure Survey, a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to see how much consumers tend to spend in 20 major cities. It found that costs vary based on where you live, with residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul spending the most on household furnishing between 2016 and 2018 at $9,322, and Tampa residents spending the least during those two years at $4,092.

The true costs of homeownership go beyond the sales price. Consumers should also budget for maintenance and insurance, in addition to furniture. As with any major purchase, take the time to comparison shop in order to find the best deal. You also might consider other ways to furnish your home on the cheap.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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