Above: Ken Smith, left, with furniture analyst Jerry Epperson at High Point Market April 8, 2019. Photo by RetailerNOW team.)
New orders for residential furniture fell 5 percent in February from the same month in 2018, according to a survey by High Point, N.C., accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.
“This decline reduced year-to-date new orders to an increase of 1 percent over the first two months of last year,” the Smith Leonard report released April 30 said. “Last year’s first two month orders were up 4 percent over the previous year. Approximately 56 percent of the participants reported a decline in orders for the first two months of 2019.
“Shipments fell 3 percent from February 2018 after a 14 percent increase last month. This decline reduced year-to-date shipments to a 5 percent increase. About one-half of the participants reported year-to-date increased shipments.”
Trends are still positive
Assurance Partner Ken Smith, CPA, added in the report’s “Thoughts” column: “Well, the recent conversations of slower business finally showed up in our survey results for February. And in spite of a very good (April) market from a feel-good standpoint, orders have not picked up that much since market, according to informal talks with clients and others. In fact, a few mentioned words like very slow or worse.”
Other trends are positive, Smith noted, which makes it difficult to explain why the furniture business isn’t stronger.
“Consumer confidence remains at very good levels, according to the surveys,” he said. “And the stock market has continued to perform. Housing, though, continues to be held back some due to higher prices.
“So, overall, most people we talk to do not understand why the furniture business is not better than it is.
“We know that weather in many parts of the country has been pretty bad. That, along with all the negative news on TV, is keeping people from spending on furniture products, at least the larger-ticket items. Hopefully, as it appears spring has finally sprung in some parts, consumers will feel better about their spending.”