HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The increase in orders in July did not continue into August as new orders fell 3 percent compared to August 2018, according to the latest survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors by Smith Leonard.

Some 67 percent of the participants in the survey reported a decline in orders. The August results left year to date orders down 2 percent from last year with 73 percent reporting lower orders year to date. Smith Leonard noted that August 2018 orders were up 9 percent over August 2017 and year to date orders in 2018 were up 6 percent over 2017.

Shipments in August were down 6 percent compared to August 2018. The 13 percent increase over July was normal due to the July vacation week causing shipments to be lower in July. The decrease in August was felt by most as 70 percent of the participants reported a decline in shipments. The August decline pushed year to date shipments into a decline of 1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Shipments year to date were down for 64 percent of the participants. Year to date last year shipments were up 3 percent over 2017.

Backlogs in August remained at about the same levels as July but were up 3 percent over August 2018. In July, backlogs were up 1 percent over July 2018.

Receivable levels got back in line, declining 1 percent from August 2018, in line with the year to date decline in shipments of 1 percent and only rising 3 percent from July in spite of the 13 percent increase in shipments from July.

Inventory levels increased again, rising 5 percent from July and 14 percent over August 2018, an area of concern. Factory and warehouse payrolls and employment remained in pretty good shape with year to date payrolls only up 1 percent. The number of factory and warehouse employees was 4 percent lower than August 2018.

Existing-home sales in September fell 2.2 percent from August after two months of increases. Despite the decrease from August, sales were still up 3.9 percent from September 2018. While each of the four regions reported a decline from August, all regions except the Midwest were up quite nicely from a year ago (the Midwest was about even versus September 2018).


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