HIGH POINT, NC - New orders for residential furniture increased 3 percent in August compared to a year earlier, continuing a 17-month string of increased year-over-year orders, according to the latest survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors by High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.

Year-to-date orders remain 5 percent ahead of 2014 figures, with more than half of those surveyed reporting increases. Orders have increased 25 out of the past 26 months, a good sign that the industry continues to recover, according to the latest issue of Furniture Insights, a monthly publication of Smith Leonard.

Shipments for August were up 8 percent compared to last year's figures. "Year-to-date shipments in 2014 were 6 percent higher than 2013, so the 7 percent increase is off of some pretty good comparisons," noted Ken Smith, managing partner.

Backlogs were up 5 percent over August 2014 figures, but down from July's 10 percent.

Looking back at the past five years, Smith said, "According to our survey, shipments have increased each year between 5 and 6 percent every year except 2010, when they were up 7 percent. Orders were slightly different, ranging from 4 percent to 8 percent, but averaging just under 6 percent. So we have really seen some nice consistent growth overall through those years."

"Receivable levels are in really good shape considering current shipment levels," he added. "Inventories are a bit high, but we will just have to watch them over the next few months."

Despite a slight dip in consumer confidence in September,  retail sales rose 5.2 percent over September 2014 levels, and up 5.4 percent year-to-date.

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