Companies selling furniture, particularly ergonomic furniture, are celebrating as their demand has remained all-time high as most firms continue the work-from-home policy.
Firms such as Pepperfry and Flipkart, which sell furniture on their e-commerce platforms, are continuing to witness a rise in demand for ergonomic or home-office furniture -- particularly, chairs and tables.
“At Pepperfry, our home-office category, especially, study tables and office chairs increased by 250 percent and 400 percent, respectively, in August 2020, in comparison to our pre-COVID sales levels,” Hussaine Kesury, Chief Category Officer, Pepperfry, told Moneycontrol.
For Pepperfry, the home-office furniture category, which accounted for about 10 percent of total sales during the pre-COVID times, continues to contribute steadily, accounting for close to 25 percent of current (November) sales.
“The unprecedented increase in demand of home-office furniture as well as other furniture and décor categories has helped us in achieving and surpassing our pre-COVID levels. Currently, we are at 120 percent of our pre-lockdown sales volumes,” Kesury added.
Companies mum on sales figures
None of the firms disclosed the exact sales figures.
Even for Flipkart, the demand for ergonomic furniture continues to remain high.
“We are witnessing heightened demand for ergonomic furniture such as office chairs, with multiple adjustments, as customers look for comfort and convenience while working for longer hours. This trend encompasses across furniture verticals including office tables, accent chairs and recliners leading to a three times increase in selection for ergonomic furniture,” said Nishant Gupta, Senior Director, Furniture, Flipkart.
Gupta also said that the demand attracted more furniture sellers into the WFH fray, with almost two times increase in the number of sellers selling ergonomic -urniture.
During the Big Billion Days, which concluded in November, through Flipkart, almost 50,000 work-from-home desks were set up all over India.
Emergence of new trends
Interestingly, there are newer trends emerging in the ergonomic space, with the addition of height adjustable tables and ergonomically designed living room furniture for more comfort. While a lot of this demand came from metros, smaller cities showed considerable growth in user demand, according to Gupta.
Industry experts said that consumers have become more cognizant of their mental and physical well-being, especially with respect to how their surroundings play a role in their emotions and productivity.
In addition to absolute requirements like tables and chairs, items that address ergonomic needs like beds and mattresses (as several people end up working on their beds) as well as bean bags, lights and lamps and table décor have also seen a lot of traction since the pandemic.
Going forward, companies expect demand for ergonomic furniture to continue. Experts feel there is a significant shift towards customers setting home offices and seeking better WFH infrastructure.
“Given that this trend of working and studying from home is here to stay, at least in the foreseeable future, we anticipate that this category will continue to grow steadily,” Kesury said.
In fact, Pepperfry will be collaborating with other players in the furniture segment to address the strong demand of home-office furniture category.
The COVID-induced lockdown started from March 22, and it forced corporates to allow employees to work from home.
In fact, from March onwards, in the IT sector, almost close to 20 lakh IT employees have been working from home. The sector employs about 50 lakh people.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines for organisations stated that private offices can operate with up to 33 percent strength as per requirement, with the remaining people working from home.