Brexit slows market, but home furnishings pick up

Furnish and Fettle in Harrogate has experienced an upturn in trade as Brexit hits the housing market and more homeowners invest in the property they already have, rather than moving to a new one.
Furnish and Fettle in Harrogate has experienced an upturn in trade as Brexit hits the housing market and more homeowners invest in the property they already have, rather than moving to a new one.

Uncertainty due to the unresolved situation regarding Brexit may be slowing down the housing market, but other sectors appear to be picking up in response.

According to the latest figures from NAEA Propertymark, estate agents had an average of just 37 properties on their books in March – the lowest number recorded for the month since records began in 2001. What’s more, retail sales fell 0.5 per cent in March, according to the British Retail Consortium.

By contrast, interior design firms and boutique furniture stores are experiencing 23 per cent growth in revenues year-on-year (Q1 2019 vs Q1 2018), according to a report from Vend, a cloud-based point-of-sale software provider.

Higor Torchia, UK country manager for Vend, said: “It’s no secret that the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit has led to a tough economic climate and is taking its toll both on house prices and on large retailers.

“However, boutique furniture stores have benefited from the situation, as Brits decide to invest in unique, high-quality products that refresh and revitalise their current homes.”

Harrogate-based interior design retailer Furnish & Fettle is one company that has experienced a significant boost in revenues as people put their house-move on hold.

Eleanor Goddard, co-owner of Furnish & Fettle, said: “Our first three months of 2019 have been really strong, with sales driven by customers looking for something special to improve their homes.

“The creation of impressive ‘home entertainment’ spaces is a key trend we’re seeing this year.”

Nearly one in five people (19 per cent) surveyed by Vend said they had ‘definitely’ shelved plans to move house this year because of the impact of Brexit on the market.

Furthermore, 86 per cent of the people who are choosing to stay put have turned to furniture stores to revitalise their current homes.

The top items bought include mirrors (bought by 28 per cent of people), coffee tables (26 per cent), cushions (24 per cent) and wall artwork (19 per cent).