HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders rose 7% in October compared to the year prior, marking a 10-month streak of year-over-year growth, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard.

The December 2018 Furniture Insights report also shows year-to-date orders remain 6% ahead of last year. "The last five months have produced
nice increases in new orders. We would expect some slower growth based on these conversations in November and possibly December." said Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard.

Approximately 68% of the participants reported increased year to date orders.

Shipments were also up for the year-over-year comparison, showing a 3% gain in October compared to previous year's figures, and remain 3% higher for the year.

Backlogs again increased 5% in October, and were 14% ahead of October 2017, Smith Leonard reported.

Receivable levels increased 6%, "which compared to the 3% increase in shipments seemed a little high," the report said. Inventories levels also increased 9% over the same period last year, "Again, this increase appeared a little high compared to current order rates. We will continue to monitor both receivables and inventory levels though we believe that the increases could be a result of timing differences," noted Smith.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.2% over October and up 1.7% from November 2017. Year-to-date sales at these stores were up 4.1%.

"Consumer confidence has remained at high levels in spite of the declines in the stock market. It appears that consumers are not paying as much attention to the market swings as they are other factors, such as the holiday season and good economic and job reports, etc.," Smith said.

"Every time we think we have a feel for whether tariffs will increase or not, more news comes out to change the direction of our thinking. We wish we knew how better to advise so that people could make better plans, but we just don’t have a strong feeling which way the winds will blow these tariffs," he added.

"With all that said, most of what we read continues to believe that the first half of 2019 will continue with a strong economy, even if maybe not quite as strong as it has been."

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.