Rising consumer confidence, combined with improvements in the new housing construction and residential remodeling markets, all bode well for the home furnishings industry in 2013.

“Year-to-date, it appears many of our member companies experienced modest improvements in sales in 2012, although some enjoyed significant double digit increases,” said Pat Bowling, vice president of communications for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, which represents nearly 200 leading residential furniture manufacturers and importers. “Based on some key indicators, many of our members are optimistic about the coming year.”

That said, “In 2013, the biggest challenge to AHFA’s members, and to the broader home furnishings industry, will be inspiring consumers to devote a greater share of their disposable income to their homes — and, in particular, to new home furnishings. Many consumers have deferred larger ticket purchases during the economic downturn, and so the competition for that discretionary dollar as the economy improves will be all the more intense. Of course, this also represents our industry’s greatest opportunity.”

Another opportunity for domestic manufacturers is the growing interest in products “Made in America.” Although imports in 2011 accounted for more than 62 percent of all furniture sales — 70 percent of wood furniture and approximately 38 percent of upholstered pieces — “All three of these numbers were down slightly from 2010 levels,” Bowling said.

And like the office furniture industry, home furnishings manufacturers also should benefit from revisions to California Technical Bulletin 117 for furniture flammability, which could end “the industry’s 30-year dependence on flame retardant chemistry,” she added.

“Given the widespread publicity on the potential eco-toxicity of FR chemicals, it is at least possible that the new regulation will result in the greatest surge in upholstery sales we’ve seen in many years, as consumers move to rid their households of what is now perceived to be a potential health hazard.”

Click here to read additional comments from Pat Bowling, vice president of communications for the American Home Furnishings Alliance

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