HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders grew for a second straight month, with new orders in November up 4 percent over the previous year's figures, according to the latest survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors by High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.

November's gains follow the 1 percent growth tallied in October, after a flat September broke the 17-month year-over-year growth streak.

Year-to-date orders remain 4 percent ahead of 2014 figures, with slightly more than half of those surveyed reporting increases, according to the latest issue of Furniture Insights, a monthly publication of Smith Leonard.

November 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 64 percent of survey participants reporting growth.

Backlogs were flat compared to last month's figures and about even with November 2014, said Ken Smith, managing partner.  Inventories remained 7 percent higher than November 2014, "a bit higher than current business, but not too far out of line yet based on shipments," Smith said.

A look at the retail sector shows 2015 ending on a positive note, with sales at furniture and home furnishings stores up 5.8 percent for the year, and housing starts continuing to record year-over-year growth. However, Smith cautioned, "There is concern that the slower economic growth, and decreasing demand for buying in oil-producing metro areas may slow some growth in housing. But since there is usually some lag in the purchase of furniture, hopefully we will not see much impact from that in the near term. With the housing market strength, we believe over the next several months, this strength will help sustain business. We have had several decent growth years in a row, so a bit slower growth should not make for bad times. It just doesn’t feel as good."

Furniture Insights - Smith Leonard

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