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Residential furniture orders surge, survey reports

Orders for residential furniture revved up in June, industry accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard reports.

The High Point, N.C., firm’s survey of manufacturers and distributors found a 30 percent increase in orders over June 2019. That followed an 8 percent dip in May.

Year-to-date, new orders were still down 16 percent for 2020. But Smith Leonard Assurance Partner Kenneth D. Smith is encouraged.

“We had heard from many that June orders had really started to come in better than expected, but the increase over June last year was more than we would have thought,” he wrote in the report’s executive summary.

He added:  “We know there had to be pent-up demand out there as those who had been planning to buy came back in a hurry once the stores opened and/or chose also to buy online, either through a store or online retailer. Being at home more certainly made some of us notice things that could be improved!

‘We applaud retailers’ who are connecting with customers

“When it will end, or slow down, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it has for some already, but for many, business has remained strong. We applaud the retailers who have figured out new ways to get to customers and meet their needs.

“We know that many of them have had issues with not having inventory, and some of the suppliers have not had sufficient finished goods to help. But for those who had inventory or could turn custom-made in a relative hurry, it has been some good times.”

Despite the increase in orders, however, the survey found that June shipments were down 7 percent from June 2019. Yet, half of survey respondents reported increased shipments. Year to date, shipments had slipped 21 percent from 2019. June inventories were 13 percent lower than for the same month in 2019, according to the survey.

Labor is a concern for manufacturers, Smith reported. “Many are now complaining with business so good, the problem has been lack of ability to bring people back, as well as hire new people.”

Premarket may be more like the market

Smith, who has attended High Point furniture markets for decades, added some thoughts about that:

“We hear that Premarket (Sept. 14-15) may be more like market than ever before. But also realize that the High Point Market will likely also be like never before, but not necessarily in a good way. We know foreign travel will likely cut back significantly along with reduced domestic. We hope the governor will be more aggressive with his next decision about opening things up and in a way that will more fully support the business community in general.

“We should get some feel for the impact social distancing and masks, etc., will have at Premarket. Hopefully, we can use it as a test case for the best way to handle the October market.”

[Safe in High Point]

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