HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders rose 8% in May compared to the year prior, and 7% higher than April orders, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. New orders were up for 58% of the surveyed participants.

Year-to-date increased 7% over last year, with shipments up 4% for the year-over-year.

May shipments rose 7% compared to the same period in 2016, and up 12% over April's figures, possibly due to one more ship day in the month. Backlogs increased 3% compared to April, and are up 11% compared to May 2016, Smith Leonard reported

Receivables were up 5% compared to last year, and about even with April, in spite of the 12% increase in shipments in May over April, the report said. Inventory levels were up 1% from May 2016 and from April, noted Smith Leonard.

On the retail end, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores in June were basically flat with sales in May but were up 2.5% over June 2016. Year-to-date, sales  at  those  stores were up 3.2% over the same period a year ago.

"Year-to-date, sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores were even with last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were down 4.7%. Department stores were down 4.2%. Electronic and appliance stores were down 1.1%. So the increase in furniture and home furnishings stores of 3.2% was not all bad," said Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard.

He added, "According to our annual operating statistics survey that we recently completed, profitability was up for the participants in our survey. So life is not all bad. We have had several good or at least decent growth several years in a row. Maybe we are just expecting too much."

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