australian furniture association choose australia first

Why Choose Australia First? The Australian Furniture Association’s campaign to grow, promote and protect the Australian furniture industry is gaining momentum.

Australian furniture manufacturing facilities were almost decimated by the pandemic, and while the economy was predicted to rebound, no-one expected the increased demand for locally manufactured products to be as significant as they were.
The Australian Furniture Association (AFA) ‘Choose Australia First’ campaign was launched with the aim of highlighting to consumers the number of jobs at stake in the wake of COVID 19 and to encourage consumers to seek out Australian made goods. ‘These are unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented step by the whole of the Australian furniture industry which is coming together for the first time to support jobs across both manufacturing and retail,’ said AFA spokesperson, Joe Perri .

‘The home market is worth $14 billion a year and if you add in the whole of the furnishings sector along with retail, the industry supports some 500,000 jobs. And every extra $1m spent on Australian furniture could support up to 50 manufacturing jobs in the sector.’

Concerned by the near-collapse of retailing during the height of the pandemic lockdown, the AFA decided to launch its campaign to boost sales of Australian manufactured and supplied furniture. A snap poll carried out during the period supported the belief that Australians would back Australian if they knew what was at stake.

At the time the poll revealed:

  • More than three-quarters (78%) of those questioned said their buying decision would be influenced if they knew buying Australia would help safeguard 46,000 jobs in the country with women (83%) more likely than men (71%) to be swayed by that knowledge.
  • The effect of COVID 19 on the economy has had a significant impact on buying decisions. More than a third (34%) said that they’d be more inclined to support buying Australian furniture than they were 2 years ago (before COVID).
  • Half those questioned (50%) had bought furniture in past 12 months although nearly a quarter (24%) didn’t know where it was made. Younger people are more likely to have bought all-Australian with a third of 18 – 34-year-olds (33%) saying everything they had bought was made here.

According to the AFA, up to 75% of furniture purchased in Australia is imported. ‘At the time of the poll, our locally made cabinet making industry had virtually died out with the imported flat-pack trade booming and Australia was importing more upholstery than we make,’ said Mr Perri. “Only in mattresses do we have a relatively healthy home market but even that’s crept up from just 21% of imported sales 30 years ago to the current 75%, and mostly online with the products not meting basic health and safety standards’.

Australia’s requirements for a minimum living wage, safe working conditions and product compliance standards means accredited Choose Australia First suppliers are critical to the future of the industry which is why the AFA launched the campaign to raise awareness, stop the rot and reverse the trends in order to support jobs, increase the amount of products made in this country and encourage investment in much needed skills and innovation.

Other findings from the poll:

  • Those in the 18 – 24 age group are the most likely (68%) to have bought furniture in the past 12 months while the over 55s were the least likely (34%).
  • The buying decisions of those in the 35 – 44 age group were more likely to have been effected by COVID 19 with 38% of that group saying they’d be more inclined to buy Australian furniture now than they were 2 years ago, before the pandemic (average 34%).
  • Regional variations were apparent too:
    • Of those who had bought furniture in the past 12 months, Sydneysiders were the most likely to have made a purchase (61%) and those in Perth the least (35%) (national average 50%).
    • People living in Queensland are the most patriotic with 29% of those questioned saying everything they had bought, furniture-wise, in the past 12 months, was made in Australia (national average 13%). Along with people in South Australia, 86% of those polled said knowing that buying Australian furniture would help safeguard 46,000 jobs would influence their buying decision (national average 78%).
    • Those least likely to know where their furniture was made (36% in each city said they didn’t know, national average 24%).

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