There’s nothing quite like shopping for furniture. It’s a completely different experience and purchasing process than buying a new television or laptop. While there are certain similarities, these are somewhat trivial. After all, you can easily carry a new laptop out of the store, but that’s not true for a couch, not to mention, a love seat, and end tables. Because of our ever-evolving world, comfort and technology are blending together in ways never imagined before. What’s good about this is consumers have many more choices.
Of course, on the flip-side, it means that furniture stores are making changes which are designed to maximize every sale. It’s now commonplace to encounter all kinds of tactics to get you not only to buy, but, to purchase as much as possible. You don’t want to pay too much for new furniture, but you also don’t want to buy poor quality pieces.
Savvy Furniture Shopping Tips
After the housing bubble burst, furniture stores were hit hard. In fact, during the year long span between 2008 and 2009, furniture stores experienced a drop in sales of 13 percent, according to a study conducted by Anderson Bauman Tourtellot Vos, a turnaround management firm. In fact, it took four years for sales to normalize back to pre-2008 levels in 2013. Though sales have returned, the furniture industry continues to struggle because of competition posed by home retailers.
“You wouldn’t want to go shopping for a big ticket item on impulse. Establish a good idea of what you need, and it doesn’t hurt to establish a budget for it. Doing that frees you up to really look at your options instead of rushing from store to store, and maybe ending up buying some furniture just because the buying process has exhausted you.” —Furniture, About.com
Another factor that the furniture industry continues to experience is the flat-lining of disposable income. Add to it the slow but perpetual inflation increase, and, it’s little wonder why there are so many furniture ads over every medium. Baby boomers are also having an adverse impact on the industry because they are downsizing, which of course means getting rid of stuff rather than purchasing.
What’s more, lenders are requiring younger consumers to commit more resources (read: money) to home purchases, which gives them less to spend after walking away from the closing table. With so much turmoil, the furniture industry is very focused on squeezing as much as possible out of every buy. When it’s time to go furniture shopping, here are some tips to help you get the best deal:
- Be ready and willing to negotiate price. Just like the car buying experience, expect to haggle. The price tags you see might strike you as ridiculous — that’s because they are precisely that — ridiculous. It’s one of the many tricks furniture stores play on consumers — placing outrageous, unsubstantiated prices on pieces. There’s often no rhyme or reason, it’s simply made-up. Like with any other large purchase, it’s best to compare well before you go into the store.
- Know what will and won’t fit your space. When you’re browsing about in the store, you’ll probably be tempted to purchase more pieces than you need. That’s an urge you should fight, not just because it saves you money, but, you might not have the room. Speaking of room, do yourself a huge favor and measure before you go to know exactly how much space you have available. Take a tape measure or a digital laser tape measurer with you when you go to the store.
- Learn which pieces require assembly. There’s very few things that are more annoying and frustrating than being surprised by the “some assembly required” disclaimer. Know precisely what pieces come assembled and which do not.
- Don’t forget about delivery details. Expect to miss an entire day of work when your furniture is scheduled to be delivered. Learn about the delivery policy and the return and exchange process before you commit to buy.
Another thing to watch out for are those enticing financing deals. While most consumers know to avoid these, it’s easy to rationalize in-the-moment. The point is to go in with a game plan and be ready to follow it.