HIGH POINT, N.C. -- According to Smith Leonard’s latest survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors, new orders in January 2019 were 8 percent higher than January 2018 orders. January 2018 orders were 2 percent higher than January 2017 orders. The January orders were also slightly higher than December 2018.

While new orders were up 8 percent overall, the results were not necessarily good for all participants as only one half of the participants reported increased orders for the month compared to last year. Many of those with reduced orders reported small declines but there were also some very positive results from those with increased order rates.

For only the second time in the last six months, shipments in January exceeded new orders. Shipments in January were 14 percent higher than January 2018 shipments. Some 75 percent of the participants reported increased shipments compared to the same month a year ago.

With shipments exceeding orders, backlogs fell 6 percent from December levels. January backlogs were now only 9 percent ahead of January 2018, down from 13 percent reported last month.

In January 2019, receivable levels were 12 percent higher than January 2018 levels, certainly in line with the 14 percent increase in shipments for the month. Inventories were up 5 percent over January 2018 and up from December. The number of factory and warehouse employees fell 1 percent from December and were 2 percent below January 2018. Factory and warehouse payrolls were up 1 percent from December but up 6 percent from January 2018. Last January, payrolls were down 1 percent from the previous year. See www.smith-leonard.com

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