What are summer shutdowns, and why do European furniture factories close in August?

Throughout the month of August, many European furniture factories close in an annual tradition commonly referred to as the "August closures" and "summer shutdowns." This tradition dates back decades and often results in inevitable extended lead-times on made-to-order furniture and lighting from across Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France.

For many of us outside mainland Europe, the month-long closure seems rather peculiar and different to the norm elsewhere in the world. As specialists in bespoke luxury furniture, lighting and home accessories, we are no stranger to the annual European summer shutdowns, and often find ourselves asked why do European furniture factories close in August.

What are August closures, and why do European furniture factories do it?

Annual summer shutdowns began in Italy many years ago, with many other mainland European countries following in the Italian's footsteps. Europe is renowned for its luxury furniture, with factories often working long hours to meet the demand for the signature, hand-made pieces they are world-famous for.

Decades ago, long before air-conditioning was available in factories, the sweltering summer month of August caused temperatures to rise significantly indoors, making it uncomfortable for the craftsmen working day and night in factories.

Rather than letting workers suffer in the uncomfortable heat, it was decided that many factories would completely down-tools throughout August and allow staff to spend the summer as they please until temperatures cool down in September, when workers returned to the production houses under a cooler climate.

The closures allowed for essential maintenance to be carried out in the factories that were previously working non-stop, and gave workers the opportunity to take their vacation in the peak of summer, when schools closed for their summer break.

Fast forward to the 21st century, factories are now equipped with air-conditioning and cooling systems, and modern technologies no longer require essential maintenance to take place while factories are closed, however, the tradition of annual summer shutdowns has never ended, with many European industries keeping the decade-old tradition to preserve the opportunity for quality time with loved ones over the warm summer months.

At Touched Interiors, we plan well-ahead to try and minimise the disruption caused by the closures between the end of July to the beginning of September. Clients ordering from us over the summer months are advised of the extended lead-times that are put in place over the period, and we are always available to provide suggestions as to when is best to place an order to ensure our made-to-order furniture, lighting and home accessories arrive at the most convenient time before or after August.