Sales At Pottery Barn Are Falling Because Your Apartment Is Too Small

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

It used to be that if someone wanted to update their living room to look like it came straight from a magazine, the place to shop was Pottery Barn. But times have changed and that’s apparently not great news for the home decor retailer, who has seen sales fall along with the size of consumers’ living spaces.

Pottery Barn, which is among the furnishing retailers owned by Williams-Sonoma Inc, reported a first quarter sales decline of 1.4% compared to the retailer’s sales at the same time last year.

The sales decline represents that fourth quarter in a row for the retailer, which saw a 4.1% decline in sales for the fourth quarter of 2016, and an overall 3.5% decrease in fiscal year 2016.

The Washington Post reports that the falling sales are the result of customers’ smaller living spaces: They simply don’t have room for that giant couch or eight-person dining room set in their 500-square-foot abode.

Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber told investors earlier this year that the company was aware of the issues and was gearing up for change, the Post reports.

“We know that the opportunity is often size, because as people move to smaller living arrangements and the urbanization happens, the large-scale furniture is difficult,” Alber told investors earlier this year, as reported by the Post.

To address the divide, Pottery Barn in February introduced a line of pieces intended for smaller spaces. The products have apparently been in “strong demand,” Alber said this week.

Still, the Post reports that too-large furniture isn’t the only issue facing Pottery Barn, as customer surveys show infrequent customers see the brand as too expensive and predictable for their tastes.

Recapturing those customers could prove difficult for Pottery Barn, as the company not only has to compete with its sister company West Elm, but also a slew of new off-price home goods stores being launched by TJMaxx.

Still, it wasn’t all gloom for Williams-Sonoma brands in the first quarter, West Elm saw a 6% increase in sales, while Williams Sonoma stores saw a 3.2% increase for the first quarter.