Fueled by a 14 percent increase in bedding and furniture sales, Wal-Mart discount stores slipped past Rooms To Go of Seffner to become the nation's biggest furniture retailer in 2002.
That's according to the latest annual ranking compiled by Furniture Today. The trade journal said Wal-Mart edged ahead of Rooms To Go by $5-million nationally, with sales of $1.24-billion. The figures exclude decorative accessories and Sam's Club, the discount giant's wholesale membership club that itself was the nation's seventh largest seller of furniture and bedding in 2002.
While Wal-Mart sold furniture in 2,800 stores, Rooms To Go achieved its $1.235-billion in sales from just 95 outlets, including 18 Rooms To Go Kids.
Known for budget-price furniture in its stores, Wal-Mart now sells some pricier items through its Web site. Recently, the site was promoting a Beautyrest Exceptionale Parliament Mattress for $2,344; a leather sofa and chair for $1,188; and a $688 Catnapper recliner that comes equipped with an armrest refrigerator, built-in speakerphone and vibrating massage.
Wal-Mart is the first general merchandise retailer to take the top spot from furniture stores and mail order operations since Sears, Roebuck & Co. did in 1993. Sears today is not in the top 25 nor ranked among the top 15 department stores that sell furniture.