HIGH POINT, N.C. - Residential furniture orders rose 5% in May compared to the year prior, marking five straight months of year-over-year growth, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. An estimated 63% of those surveyed reported an increase in new orders for May, compared to 79% which growth in April, the accounting and consulting firm reported.

Year-to-date new orders remain 6% ahead of last year's figures for the same time period.

Shipments were also up, showing a 2% in May compared to 2017 figures, and up 3% for the year, with again 63% of the participants reporting increases.

"While the first quarter results were a bit weak with orders up only 3% and shipments up 1%, the second quarter so far has been much better with orders now up 6% and shipments up 3% over the first five months of last year. Certainly not all participants have enjoyed the increase but many are having pretty decent results," said Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard.

Backlogs were up 5% from May 2017, and 3% compared to April figures, Smith Leonard reported. "Backlogs were actually down slightly from the previous year in both January and February, so it was good to see them a bit healthier." the firm noted.

Receivables rose 1% over May 2017 and were even with April in spite of the 6% increase in shipment, according to Smith Leonard. Inventories were even with April, and 6% higher than May 2017.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.8% in June compared 2017 figures, with year-to-date retail sales up 5.3% compared to the same period a year ago.

"Consumer confidence continues to be very favorable in spite of concerns over tariffs, inflation and higher interest rates. But confidence has been buoyed by continued economic growth overall," Smith said.

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