Is Furniture Rental the Best Supply Chain Fix? A Look at Furniture Foot Traffic

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The average cost of homes rose significantly across the United States in 2021. According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index, last year’s 18.8% increase was the largest in 34 years. This spike in costs trickled down to the furniture housed within a home’s four walls. 

Partly attributable to the demand that supply chain shortages placed upon household items, the rising costs of furniture saw many American families pivot to rental options for home decor.

This trend resulted in a boom for the furnishing store and furnishing rental industries, with increased traffic to locations that could offer quality furniture at cost-effective prices. Was it simply the prices associated with new furniture or a greater variety in options with rental retailers that drove business to the sector?

Unacast's Tableau workbooks offer a look into data sets regarding Furnishing Store Visitation and Furnishing Store Brand Comparison to determine how retailers in this sector fared in 2021 and zeroed in on which brands saw the greatest customer activity.

Furnishing store visitation trends

When contrasting Rent-A-Center and Mattress Firm, the top two retailers in the industry across 2021, the data highlights consumer preference toward the rental-based retailer. 

We’ll utilize the Furnishing Store Visitation workbook below to isolate the retail chains that saw the most traffic and look into the regions that enjoyed the greatest visitation numbers. From there, we’ll dive into the Furnishing Store Brand Comparison workbook to see the exact dates that drove peak traffic and look for commonalities between purchase and rental stores.

Let’s contrast data between the top rental retailer, and the top purchase-based big box location to see who saw the most traffic: 

  • It’s clear that rental rules. With a significant presence in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon) and California, Rent-A-Center was among the top three retail locations in every state west of New England. Traffic began to accelerate after Valentine’s Day, with a peak on March 28. Total foot traffic for the year was 103,025,543 across the country, making Rent-A-Center the retailer of choice, for both rental and purchase business models.
  • Mattress Firm was the dominant purchase-based retailer of 2021, with a top-three presence in the same Pacific Northwest states as Rent-A-Center. 79,596,086 unique visitations were registered to American locations, with peak traffic registered in March.

For the foot traffic for both businesses on that registered high mark of March 28, 2022, we can see 2,492,825 unique visitors stopped by Rent-A-Center locations across America that day, while 2,087,500 individuals shopped at Mattress Firm. In total, 405,325 shoppers picked the rental option for their home decor decisions that day. 

Factors influencing the rise of rental

The aggregated data from the Unacast Tableau Furnishing Store Visitation workbook highlights the popularity of furniture rental options for Americans in 2021. But what trends led to the elevated foot traffic retailers like Rent-A-Center enjoyed throughout the year?

A July 2021 blog published by Circle Furniture encapsulates the perfect storm that influenced the numbers behind the data. The COVID-19 pandemic was the obvious culprit for worldwide shortages in raw materials, and shortages were the driving force behind the increased prices of finished home furnishings. 

A customer’s geographic location – and their proximity to locally grown trees — was beneficial for some, while others endured the elevated shipping costs compounding already inflated material prices.

Winter Storm Uri was an unexpected culprit, wreaking havoc on a handful of factories responsible for the production of the foam used for mattresses and cushions. Compounding pandemic delays, manufacturer orders for foam were extended by months at a time.

With Americans transitioning to remote-working situations as a result of the pandemic, the surge in time spent at home left many recognizing a potential for furniture upgrades, if not wholesale home renovations. The spike in furniture pricing – as the data proves – did not result in the dissuasion of customer interest in new furniture. The data shows that many Americans simply altered how they paid for it.

Unacast’s Tableau workbooks provide data insight from a variety of viewpoints with the click of a button. To learn more about how Unacast can provide trusted location data platform solutions for your business, visit our website or contact us today!


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