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Throwback Thursday: The years tell tales among Top 10 furniture retailers

Lineup of lead retailers makes major shift in 20 years

Furniture/Today turns 40 this year and to help our readers celebrate we offer this look back at the past 40

years of furniture industry history. Each week we’ll dig into the F/T archives to share insights from the industry’s past. We’d also like to hear your stories. If you’d like to share a story from the past 40 years of furniture industry history please write Bill McLoughlin, Editor in Chief, Furniture/Today at

HIGH POINT — As we look forward to next week’s annual list of Furniture/Today’s Top 100 U.S. Furniture Stores, let’s take a look back 20 years to who ruled the roost.

Regarding 1996’s list, many of those retailers no longer exist these days. You pick them out.

In 1996, Levitz led the pack with $1 billion in sales of furniture, bedding and accessories. Heilig-Meyers was No. 2 at $844.2 million, followed by Pier 1 Imports ($459.2 million), Rhodes ($430.2 million), Value City ($415 million), Art Van ($396 million), Havertys ($395.5 million), Ikea ($388.5 million), The Bombay Co. ($309.4 million) and Rooms to Go ($305 million).

You’ll have to wait for this year’s Top 100 coming out in our May 16 print edition. But for kicks, let’s take a look at 2015’s Top 10 list based on 2014 sales. There’s not a lot of crossover.

1. Ashley Furniture HomeStore, $3.3 billion in 2014 sales (This network didn’t exist in ’96.)

2. Ikea, $2.8 billion (Nearly 10 times what it sold here 20 years ago.)

3. Williams-Sonoma, $2.4 billion (Neither it nor any of its associated retail brands made the list in ’96.)

4. Rooms to Go, almost $2 billion (No. 10 on the 1996 list.)

5. Mattress Firm, $1.9 billion (Nowhere to be seen on the ’96 list and a reflection of the growth of the bedding category and the company’s aggressive growth strategy.)

6. RH, $1.5 billion (The company known as Restoration Hardware also was a no-show 20 years ago.)

7. Berkshire Hathaway Furniture Division, $1.4 billion (This conglomeration includes some familiar faces from 20 years ago: RC Willey, 22nd on the ’96 list; Nebraska Furniture Mart, 25 th ; Jordan’s Furniture, 30 th ; and Star Furniture, 35 th in 1996.)

8. Pier 1 Imports, $1.3 billion (No. 3 on the 1996 listing).

9. Raymour & Flanigan, $1.1 billion (No. 31 in 1996.)

10. Sleep Number, $1.1 billion (Another illustration of bedding’s boom in the past 20 years at retail.)

There have been some changes. What will the next 20 years bring?






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