Foreign trade of the German furniture industry

The German furniture industry can look back on a positive development in industry exports in recent years. While the industrial export quota - this is the share of direct furniture deliveries abroad in the total turnover of the industry - was still 16.3 per cent in 2000, it was doubled to 32.4 per cent by 2018. As a result, German furniture manufacturers generate an average of almost one third of their turnover on foreign markets.

With the domestic market saturated and shrinking in the long term, the strengthening of export capability will become a question of survival for the industry. On the one hand, this is due to the demographic development in Germany, which is leading to a lower total population and an ageing population. Old people tend to buy less new furniture. On the other hand, the ratio of furniture sold in Germany made in Germany to furniture imported from abroad has almost reversed over the past 18 years. In 2000, the proportion of foreign furniture sold here was 33 percent, but today it is 65 percent.

The foreign trade deficit of the German furniture industry amounted to € 1.8 billion in 2018, down 14% on the previous year. Furniture exports increased by 2.7% with furniture imports stagnating. Exports must be expanded significantly in the coming years in order to consolidate the position of the German furniture industry.

German furniture exports to record high in 2018 Chinese market will become more important

Furniture "Made in Germany" is particularly popular abroad. Meanwhile almost every third piece of furniture (32.4%) made in Germany is exported. Last year, sales abroad increased by 2.2 percent to 10.9 billion euros. This is the highest export value ever measured. The growth market China developed particularly dynamically with an export plus of 14.7 percent. But the important markets in Europe also showed a positive trend. We sold 6.6 percent more to France, the industry's most important export market, 4.4 percent more to the Netherlands and 11.1 percent more to Italy.

EU countries accounted for 70.3 percent of total German furniture exports in 2018, followed by European countries outside the EU with 13.3 percent, Asia with 8.3 percent and North America with 5.3 percent. With an export increase of 3.8 per cent compared to the previous year, Asia showed the highest dynamic, exports to the EU rose by 2.8 per cent. However, the most important non-European market for German furniture manufacturers remained the USA, where furniture worth 513 million euros was sold (+0.5%). Unfortunately, business with the USA lost momentum at the end of last year, also due to the uncertain trading environment. The forthcoming Brexit has already slowed furniture sales to Great Britain by 5.3 percent in 2018.