News that Lincolnton Furniture abruptly shuttered its doors sent shockwaves throughout the woodworking industry. In just about a year’s time, the residential furniture went from being hailed as a symbol for the resurgence of manufacturing in America to becoming another victim of lower-cost imports.
Unfortunately, it is not alone.
According to statistics from the International Trade Administration, 2012 imports of furniture and fixtures from China (through September) totaled $12.4 billion. Comparatively, exports of these products to China for the same period of totaled $105.7 million.
Going back ta year, the difference continues to be staggering. 2011 figures from the ITA show exports of furniture and fixtures to China totaled $120.1 million, compared to the $15.2 billion of the products that the United States imported from the country. Of the amount imported, 76.3% or $11.6 billion was household and institutional furniture and kitchen cabinets.
It is obvious we need to change the tide.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights two U.S. furniture companies attempting to do just that. Titled “Ethan Allen Turns the Tables in China,” the article details efforts by Ethan Allen and Ashley Furniture to sell their furniture to Chinese consumers. What’s ironic is the popularity of the furniture is not simply because of its cost — a primary determination it seems of U.S. consumer purchasing decisions — but because of the perceived high quality of North American-made products.
A lesson we can all take to heart.