Are Dunelm results the tip of the iceberg for homewares’ prospects?

When Dunelm profits fall, it’s time to worry. The homewares retailer, which has ridden the storms of the last three years, announced that profits had fallen from £140.8m to £117.4m, or 17%.

Sales in the second half of 2022 did rise fortunately to £835m but the company is now managing expectations down as inflation cuts into consumer spending, and as the post-pandemic sales bonanza disappears.

Dunelm also said that that it expects full-year profits to beat forecasts of £176 million due to what it referred to as shopper “resilience” but said things were unpredictable. What must surely be hiding in these figures is the fact that Dunelm’s costs will have risen in the supply chain, higher services costs, the need to invest more heavily in digital (£17 m allocated) and the simple fact that consumers have reined in their spending.

The company must take every credit for doing everything that it can to ride this all out. For the wider homewares sector, the current unique combination of pressures on costs and spending is not a cause for optimism for retailers whose control of operational costs and inventory levels is not as tight as Dunelm’s.

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