Photo shows a furniture showroom
The Alden Parkes showroom at High Point Market, April 2019

Furniture orders surge in September, Smith Leonard says

Orders for residential furniture in September surged 7 percent over September 2018, making it the strongest month of 2019, according to Smith Leonard’s latest survey of manufacturers and distributors.

“And remember that September 2018 orders were 9 percent higher than September 2017,” the High Point, N.C., accounting and consulting firm noted in its executive summary.

“The September results were better than we expected overall, but certainly not for all,” Assurance Partner Kenneth D. Smith wrote in additional comments, noting that 64 percent of survey participants reported a boost in orders.

Retail is performing well

“Even with the September increase, the year-to-date decrease of 1 percent in new orders seems to reflect the kind of year it has been. We continue to think that the overall economy is good and all the economic factors that support the industry are in good shape. In fact, retail overall has performed at a better pace.”

Smith added that politics and consumer anxiety generated by the news may be holding back sales.

“We almost always go back to the fact that most furniture purchases are deferrable,” he wrote. “Most of our furniture at home does not have to be replaced immediately, so usually housing moves are the reason to buy on a more immediate needs basis. So, with overall housing results decent but not great, that leaves consumers more in the need for replacement items, which can be deferred.

[Furniture retailers expect increased sales in 2020]

Give retailers new ideas and products

“Why, then, are they deferred? Just listen to the news and hear how bad things supposedly are. We know the stock market and overall economy are in pretty good shape, but if those positives are even mentioned, they are followed by ‘it won’t last’ and ‘bad things are coming.’ Those, along with all the presidential race information, just make people a bit nervous.

“That said, even if 2019 continues at the 2018 pace, we have had several years in a row of decent growth, so all is not bad. It is just not as good as we all want it to be. So, really, it is a time to look for new ideas and products to help you with market share. Those ideas then convert to retailers and designers being able to show consumers more things they ‘have to have’ or ‘want to have’ enough to make them want to buy.”


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