After two years of growth, the wood-furniture supply chain is showing a negative sign for the first time.
In fact, according to the Monitor drawn up by FederlegnoArredo's Study Centre on a representative sample of companies, in the first quarter of 2023 sales in the wood-furniture supply chain contracted by 1.4% compared to the same period in 2022 to EUR 2.5 billion. The contraction is determined by -2.7% in the domestic market and +0.4% in exports.
2023 a complicated year for the sector
The furniture macro-system - which accounts for more than 60% of total sales - is up 3.2% and registers a positive sign in both the domestic market (+5.3%) and exports (+1.3%). However, this positive variation is still more affected by price increases than by an actual increase in volumes.
The wood macro-system, on the other hand, recorded -10.5% compared to the same quarter of 2022, (-12.4% for sales in the domestic market and -4.7% in exports), a downturn across many of the systems, but exacerbated above all by the contraction in value of panels. "Data that," comments FederlegnoArredo president Claudio Feltrin, "show how 2023 will be a complicated year for our sector and confirm the slowdown that had already begun at the end of 2022. Now the real question is to understand whether in the coming months we will still be able to talk about a simple slowdown, which I would say is physiological after two years of exceptional results, or whether we will have to talk about an abrupt slowdown. It is still too early to say, but I fear I will not be proved wrong by thinking that the first half of the year will also have a negative sign, and perhaps even sharper than the current one. In terms of production, it is possible that this year, after two years of extraordinary growth, the sector will mark the pace, with a reduction in volumes not only compared to 2022, but also compared to 2019.
Forecasts 2023: supply chain stable, but wood in great pain
Forecasts for the whole of 2023, again according to the results of FederlegnoArredo's Monitor, are on the same wavelength: -0.6% overall for the supply chain, just below 2022 levels with exports at +0.3% and Italy at -1.2%. As regards the furniture macro-system (MSA), forecasts speak of +2.8% overall, with +3.3% for Italy and +2.3% for exports. On the other hand, the forecast for the woodworking macro-system (MSL) is still negative with -5.9% overall, given by -6.1% for Italy and -5.5% for exports.
"As the forecasts also tell us," adds President Feltrin, "the sector most closely linked to the home and therefore to furniture continues to hold up, despite the fact that the continuous changes in the running on building bonuses have negatively affected the trend. Wood, it is clear, is suffering much more and we can, as was the case for the price rise at the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, consider it the first alarm bell that, like a domino effect, will hit the entire supply chain. This is therefore a complex situation that must be read within a context in which the loss of household purchasing power, the lack of liquidity and the related drop in consumption go hand in hand with the drop in production, as certified by the ISTAT data for April. Given this situation, I would take for granted a further drop in the second quarter of 2023, when the tail end of the 2022 orders will also have disappeared. We are definitely on an inclined plane, how much of an inclined plane we will understand shortly. But I would rule out a trend reversal, not to mention that the slowdown in Germany, the second largest market in Europe for products from the chain, is certainly not good news for us.