HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders rose 12% in March compared to the year prior, and 17% higher than February orders, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. New orders were up for 77% of the surveyed participants.
Orders increased 6% over the first quarter in 2016, with shipments up 4% for the year-over-year.
March shipments rose 6% compared to the same period in 2016, and up 17% over February's figures, possibly due to less work days in the month. Backlogs were basically even with February figures, but up 8% compared to March 2016 due to a higher increase in orders, Smith Leonard reported
Receivables were up 6% compared to last year, but only up 3% from February, in spite of the 17% increase in shipments, the report said. Inventory levels fell 1% from March 2016 and from February, noted Smith Leonard.
Although consumer confidence looks to be positive, "Converting that confidence to more activity seems to be the trick," said Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard. "The March results of our survey were maybe a bit higher than we expected. Though most of what we had heard prior to the High Point Market had indicated that business had picked up. With over three-fourths of the participants reporting increases in orders, those expectations seemed to carry over into what we thought was a pretty good market."
He added, "While the overall economic conditions in the U.S. continue to be a bit sluggish, the key factors continue to be somewhat strong. While housing is off a bit, the stock market has been very strong; inflation is not bad except for energy indexes and retail in general is positive, along with good consumer confidence. All of this together should continue to produce more furniture sales along the rest of the year.
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