This article has been republished with the permission of Furniture Today USA.
New orders for furniture in March rose 12% from the same month last year, a significant gain compared to the 4% rise in new orders February over February.
The High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard noted that strength of March numbers in its most recent Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors.
Year-to-date, orders were up 4%, with March boosting those numbers, and new orders were even with the 2015 first quarter.
“The good news was that some 77% of the participants reported increases,” said Smith Leonard partner Ken Smith in the report.
March shipments increased 6% over last year and 17% over February levels, but Smith Leonard attributed some of that increase to more working days in the month of March.
Backlogs, reported to be holding steady in February, were up 8% in March over March 2016.
Receivables also were up, 6% for March over March, while inventories were down a slight 1% for the same time. The report noted that, with the increase in orders and shipments, inventories appear to be in good shape.
The Furniture Insights survey tracks two consumer confidence reports and noted that the report from the University of Michigan was “slightly more positive” than the Conference Board’s report, although neither shows significant changes.
“Converting that confidence to more activity seems to be the trick,” Smith noted. “The March results of our survey were maybe a bit higher than we expected, although most of what we had heard prior to the High Point Market had indicated that business had picked up.”
He noted that while the overall economic conditions in the U.S. remain a bit sluggish, key factors continue to be “somewhat strong.
“All of this together should continue to produce more furniture sales along the rest of the year.”