HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders took a positive turn in May, moving up 2 percent compared to the year prior, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. This follows three months of sales decline and bodes well for the industry as it enters into the summer and fall show seasons for new introductions.
"The three declines had been 1 percent in February, 2 percent in March and 3 percent in April, so the reversal was good news," said Ken Smith, managing partner. "The reversal was definitely not across the board as only about half of the participants reported increased orders over May of 2015. The good news was that, for April, some 69 percent of the participants reported declining orders, so the improvement to half was good."
Year-to-date orders were about even compared to 2015, although 61 percent did report lower orders year-to-date.
May shipments were down 1 percent compared to the same period in 2015, but up 6 percent from April, bringing year-to-date shipments even with those from a year ago. "The declines in April and May were likely the result of shipments in the earlier months exceeding orders so sooner or later that would have to catch up," Smith said. Backlogs were up 2 percent from April, but down 6 percent compared to May 2015, also the result of shipments year-to-date exceeding new orders.
"Inventories continue to inch down each month, moving them back to closer in line with current business," Smith added. Inventories were down 2 percent from April, although up 3 percent compared to May 2015.
"From what we heard from manufacturers and distributors, June furniture sales were not that great for some. July has been a bit of a mixed bag with some saying late July has been pretty decent," he said.
"We hope all of the industry can withstand the election and get back to good business soon."
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