Vietnam leads furniture exports, but gap is small

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Source: Furniture Today

HIGH POINT — Vietnam’s reign as the largest furniture exporter to the U.S. market appears to be only just beginning.

As the coronavirus pandemic dwindled down in the first half of 2021, the Asian country’s imports to the U.S. surged 76% over the same period of 2020. Furniture Today research shows the country shipped $5.1 billion in furniture the first half of the year.

That puts it above longtime behemoth China, which sent over nearly $4.6 billion in furniture for the first half of the year. Vietnam overtook China in 2020, marking one of the most dramatic shifts in furniture imports in recent history. But the gap between the two remains small, and current circumstances may tip the scale back in China’s favor.

Vietnam now infamously began shutting down in late July, thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak. A government order prevented people from moving, and factories could only remain open if workers lived there. This sparked a multitude of supply and labor issues in the country, which are still being felt.

China on the other hand appears to be safe from another outbreak, at least for the time being. The country’s well-equipped factories, highly trained labor force and strong logistics will continue keep it in top contention, despite tariffs. Several furniture makers have opted to bring some production back to China from Vietnam as of late, including LoveSac and Hooker Furniture.

Malaysia and Indonesia made the top 10 once again, exporting $873 million and $604 million, respectively. Thailand saw a whopping 97% increase to $219 million, and Poland saw an 80% increase to $181 million. Italy’s rise also shouldn’t be overlooked. The country exported over $554 million in furniture to the U.S., a 72% increase over 2020.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable changes is for Mexico, whose meteoric rise seems to know no bounds. The United States’ southern neighbor exported $836 million worth of furniture to the U.S. in the first half of the year, a 68% rise over 2020. It seems to be the new hot spot for those burned by Malaysia and, more recently, Vietnam. The desire to manufacture and source furniture close to home will continue to make Mexico a viable option.

One last thing to note is the decline of Canada position in the list of countries. It comes in at No. 6 this year, down from No. 3 in 2020. Its numbers reached $642 million for the first half of the year. That’s still an increase over 2020, but at just an 18% rise, it represents a noticeably smaller gain than every other country on the list.

Unsurprisingly, overall numbers are vastly higher than 2020. Total furniture imports to the U.S. hit more than $15 billion from January to June, a 55% increase over the same time 2020. Those numbers indicate a dying pandemic and a very welcome sign.

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