Chinese record

China produces 39% of the world’s furniture, for a value of about 180 billion dollars. An export leader, it is also a big importer: Italy is one of the main suppliers of high-quality furnishings

Sunset over Victoria Harbor as viewed atop Victoria Peak ©Ronnie Chua
Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong, ©Ronnie Chua

The world’s biggest furniture industry is in China, according to all the indicators: production, consumption and exports. Growth of about 17% per year has been constant for over a decade in this sector, driven above all by the real estate market, the pillar of the Chinese economy and protagonist of phenomenal expansion in its own right.

China produces 39% of the world’s furniture, for a value of about 180 billion dollars (source: CSIL), with a world export share between 35 and 40%. Over 70% of the furniture factories are in the GBA, Great Bay Area, the southeastern zone of the country – which includes Hong Kong, Macao and the province of Guangdong – destined to become the driving center of Asian and worldwide innovation. Most of the technological advances in the sector are developed precisely in the capital of GBA, Shenzhen. Actually, from the southern and eastern coasts the furniture industry is spreading into the central part of China. Many furniture factories of the GBA and Beijing, in fact, are opening production sites in other provinces like Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui, in line with the Chinese trend towards movement of a large part of production into small-medium cities, leaving the headquarters and R&D divisions in the big cities.

There are various reasons behind the Chinese furniture record. Besides the growth of the middle class, the demand is boosted by the expansion of the population between 25 and 35 years of age, the group most likely to buy a home and therefore also to buy its furnishings. The trend towards urbanization is also decisive, increasing again by 1.17% in, to reach a level of 58.52%.

But China is also a big importer: the entry of furnishings in the country has increased by 15.65%, for an overall value of 30.52 billion dollars. Centro Studi Industria Leggera reports that with 30%, the highest quota of premium imported furniture is made in Italy.