For the office furniture industry in the US: please provide statistics around the types of businesses that buy furniture, what pieces of furniture do they buy, what is the average spend on office furniture, average spend per employee? Percent of office furniture purchased broken down by age group, gender, industry, company size, etc?
Hello! Thanks for your question about office furniture spending in the U.S. The most useful sources I found to answer your question are Allsteel's cost estimation tool and a furniture pricing matrix. The short version is that spending on office furniture in the U.S. averages about $105.65 per employee and millenials and their preferences are driving the office furniture market. While we were unable to find data broken down by gender and industry, there was information on what different age groups spend on furniture and their shares in the market. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
Over the last four years, the U.S. office furniture market increased from $13.79 billion in 2013 to an estimated $16 billion in 2016. The U.S. Census Bureau reported a total of just over 6.7 million existing businesses in the U.S. in 2013. By dividing the 2013 office furniture spend by the number of businesses in the U.S., I was able to estimate that each business spends an average of about $2,058 on office furniture. This does, however, include businesses that consist of only one person or a very small number of employees.
According to the Bureau of Laber Statistics, there are a total of 151,436 full- and part-time workers in the United States. When I divided the estimated $16 million market size for 2016 by that number, I arrived at an average $105.65 spent on office furniture per employee. This estimate likely seems low because many workers do not use office furniture (such as those who work outdoors, wait tables, or are self-employed).
ESTIMATED FURNITURE COSTS
Fortunately, I found a few better ways to estimate furniture costs. Office furniture supplier Allsteel includes a handy estimation tool on their website that allows companies to estimate the cost per square foot of furnishing offices based on square feet available, total number of employees, and types of desks, offices, and common spaces.
Another breakdown estimates cost by office size and quality of furniture; for example, high-level furniture in a 10,000 square foot space might be expected to cost about $9.75 per square foot, but furnishing the same space with used furniture would cost approximately $3.25 per square foot.
I also found a blog post that offers general estimates for mid-to-high end office furniture at about $4,200 per employee plus about $7,000 for internet, extras, common spaces, and infrastructure as well as a detailed breakdown of estimated costs in the San Francisco area by square foot, office type, and type of furniture. These range from $12 to $30 per square foot, $1,500-$3,000 for an administrative workstation, and $1,000 to over $4,000 for a conference table, to name a few.
Overall, average spend varies widely by type of furniture, area costs, number of employees, and the companies used. Unfortunately, despite searching corporate and industry reports, government data, and trusted media sites we were unable to find breakdowns of furniture purchased by gender or company size, but with the data given it should be relatively simple to estimate the cost of office furniture for a specific business and/or office location.
MILLENIALS AND FURNITURE
Millenials represented 37% of the general furniture market in 2014, a dramatic increase from 14% in 2012, and their spending on furniture doubled during that time. While baby boomers still dominate the market, millenials and Gen X'ers are continuing to increase their share, so forward-thinking designs should try to incorporate their preferences, which include eco-friendly products and multifunctional items that represent their dynamic lifestyles.
Though these statistics encompass the furniture industry at large, it stands to reason that similar trends are at play in the office furniture market as well.
OFFICE FURNITURE TRENDS
The types of furniture that businesses purchase have changed greatly with the explosion of the internet. Modern offices tend to focus on environmentally friendly design and think outside the box - literally - by eschewing traditional cubicles in favor of furniture that encourages movement, flexibility, and collaboration. Thanks to cloud-based data storage, the spaces once used for filing cabinets can now become communal areas, group workspaces, or more comfortable, open seating for employees. Google, for example, features a large round couch in its London headquarters. Because technology allows employees to work anywhere, office furniture can be adapted to fit workers' needs and reflect a company's personality and values.
Communal work stations reduce the need for individual desks, but even those are undergoing a transformation. Standing desks, treadmill desks, and wireless desks are becoming popular according to Inc. Magazine, and Forbes suggests that standing desks are a strong example of ways that office design is becoming both more aesthetically attractive and ergonomic.
To wrap it up, spending largely depends on location, type of furniture, and number of employees, but anywhere from $10-30 per square foot seems to be the norm. For a more specific estimate based on the client's company, the Allsteel tool should provide a reasonable average to use as a starting point.
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