COVID-19 is set to have a profound impact on the kitchens and kitchen furniture market, with sales set to drop by an estimated 27.9% in 2020. A key factor is the reduced appetite for big-ticket purchases, as consumers withhold, delay or redirect expenditure away from the kitchens market. Also, given that 65% of consumers continue to necessitate a showroom visit at some point in the purchasing journey, spending will also have been adversely impacted by store closures from March-June. While, even as stores reopened, the market remains limited by ongoing uncertainty, whether in the 40% of consumers who continue to limit time in-store, those who still avoid the high street altogether or the 44% who would feel uncomfortable letting a tradesperson inside the home until after the pandemic is over.

Looking ahead, however, spending is forecast to return sharply, increasing by an estimated 25.8% in 2021. Ultimately, this recovery will be underpinned by the sharp release of pent-up demand, particularly of bigger-ticket purchases. In fact, 23% of consumers have already delayed plans to spend on the kitchen until after the outbreak. This will then likely coincide with both the wide-scale return to the high street and the resumption of major renovations put off as a result of the slowdown of the housing market, which will benefit from the temporary stamp duty holiday set to come in between July 2020 and March 2021.

Unique to the kitchens market, however, these external factors are set to be complemented by developments within the market. Extended periods inside the home will have seen kitchen usage rise across the UK during 2020. In fact, home cooking (55%), baking (28%) and eating with members of the household (24%) are all up sharply as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. On top of this, over this period, consumers have required kitchens to perform less conventional functions, whether as a space to exercise, work from home, home-school or entertain.

This surge in new activity will have seen a refocusing on kitchens, one which could open up opportunities for the market moving forwards as confidence gradually returns. In fact, already, 25% of consumers agree that extended periods inside have made them rethink the layout of their kitchen, while 24% of consumers agree that this has made them prioritise future spending for the kitchen. As such, extended periods inside the home during 2020 could refocus attention on kitchens, and support pent-up demand in 2021 and beyond.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on kitchens and kitchen furniture retailers.

  • How this disruption will change demand in the short, medium and long term.

  • Opportunities and threats arising from COVID-19.

  • Performance of the leading furniture specialists and non-specialists in the past year.

  • The growth of online retail in the kitchens market.

  • The current design trends in the market.

COVID-19: Market context

This context was provided on 25th September 2020.

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January, with a small number of cases in February. The government focused on the ‘contain’ stage of its strategy, with the country continuing to operate much as normal. As the case level rose, the government ordered the closure of non-essential stores on 20th March.

A wider lockdown requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise and work ‘if absolutely necessary’ followed on 23rd March. Initially, a three-week timeframe was put on the measures, which was extended in mid-April for another three weeks.

The Health Protections Regulations 2020 came into effect on 15th June allowing the reopening of all non-essential stores in England as well as the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers were able to reopen on 4th July, with many beauty businesses following on 13th July.

From 24 July, it became mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets. Rules on travel remain fluid: from 10 July, travellers from more than 50 “low risk” countries no longer had to self-isolate for 14 days, but on 28 July the removal of Spain from this list of low-risk countries dominated headlines in the UK.

Then on 14th September, amid fears of rising case numbers and an increase in the R number, the government announced a new wave of restrictions: limiting the number of persons in a gathering to no more than six, either inside or outside, for all but a few exceptions. On 22nd September, these were taken further, with announcements that all shop staff must now wear face coverings, a curfew of 10p.m. on all hospitality venues, and further advice to work from home where possible. This was followed by warnings of new restrictions, which could last for as long as six months, in the case of continued case growth.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP could fall by 12.4% in 2020, recovering by 8.7% in 2021, and that unemployment will reach 11.9% by the end of 2020, falling to 8.8% by the end of 2021.

The current uncertainty means that there is wide variation on the range of forecasts, however, and this is reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q1 2021. Its more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP doesn’t recover until Q3 2024.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

This Report monitors the consumer market for kitchen furniture through all channels. Estimates include retail sales to consumers plus trade sales via local traders, including builders and interior design specialists. Market sizes reflect this clarification of the Report’s definition.

The Report addresses fitted and freestanding kitchen furniture, including:

  • Storage units such as cupboards, shelving and dressers

  • Work surfaces

  • Tables

  • Chairs and stools.

The kitchen furniture market consists of both single furniture items and complete fitted systems. The latter frequently includes non-furniture items, such as sinks and taps (plumbing supplies), as well as appliances bought as part of a kitchen and installation costs. Nevertheless, these non-furniture items are integral to the price charged for a fitted kitchen, and are covered in this Report. Inevitably it is not straightforward to separate out retail and trade sales; the data shown in the Report represents Mintel’s best estimates of the consumer market for kitchens. There is also an element of unquantifiable overlap with dining room furniture in the area of tables and chairs.


  • Furniture sold for non-domestic use

  • Kitchens and constituent parts sold to the building trade for installation in new-build homes and redevelopments

  • Appliances, except those integral to a fitted kitchen

  • Second-hand furniture.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. Value figures throughout this Report are at retail selling prices unless otherwise stated. Market sizes at 2019 prices are calculated using Mintel’s Household Goods deflator.

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