HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders in December 2015 were 1 percent higher than new orders received during the same time frame in the previous year, according to the latest survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors by High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.

In context, December 2014 orders were 15 percent higher than December 2013 orders so the 1 percent increase this year over December last year still indicates growth, according to the firm. Nearly one-half of survey participants reported increases for December 2015, which was down slightly from November 2015. Also, approximately 53 percent of participants finished the year with increased orders: This was down from 74 percent reporting increases last year, indicating there was a slight slowdown overall in 2015.

December shipments were up 5 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Year-to-date shipments were 6 percent ahead for the year-to-date with 61 percent of survey participants reporting growth, down slightly from November 2015.

Backlogs fell 4 percent from November as shipments outpaced orders. Backlogs were also down 4 percent from last December, Smith said.

The number of factory and warehouse employees was up 1 percent over November and 2 percent higher than December 2014. The 2 percent increase was the same as reported last month. Factory and warehouse payrolls were 7 percent higher than December 2014 and were 7 percent higher year-to-date.

Retail sales have continued to grow despite a volatile stock market, the report noted. "This year is probably a good year not to expect too much growth," Smith said. "But instead to really look after your customers and protect your markets."


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