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From Home Furnishing Business

Design Firms in West, South Post Strongest 2014 Growth

Inquiries for interior design projects are at their highest in three years, according to the American Society of Interior Designers’ Interior Design Billings Index.

In September the index registered 60.5 and inquiries rose to 69.5.

As an economic indicator of residential and nonresidential improvement spending, the IDBI brings additional perspective to the already established construction indices. Three different variables had an impact on billings the third quarter: firm size, region and market sector.

“The U.S. economy remains on firm footing and economic growth for the balance of 2014 is forecasted to be in the range of 3.0.” said Jack Kleinhenz, economist for ASID Research. “Business conditions for the design industry continue to indicate momentum and usher further improvement in home improvement and construction activity.”

Billings and inquiries reported by industry members have remained on an upswing for the majority of 2014 with scores above 50 (any score over 50 indicates growth), for the past 21 months. For September, close to half of survey participants (49 percent) reported a minimum five-percent increase in new project inquiries; 35 percent reported a similar increase in billings.

While the IDBI for firms of all sizes was 50 or above, small firms – those with two to nine employees – achieved an IDBI score of 67 in September, while sole practitioner firms scored 52.3.

Although firms in every region notched increased Index scores for September, only firms in the West and the South showed consistent monthly gains over the third quarter. Throughout the year, firms in the Northeast and Midwest experienced volatile fluctuations in their billings, according to data reported to ASID.

Both single- and multi-family residential billings have shown ongoing improvement throughout the past four quarters, with single-family billings illustrating the more steady gains. The commercial segment, however, sustained its downward trend, with only the office segment ending the third quarter with an IBDI above 50. Similarly, in the institutional sector, only healthcare ended the quarter above 50, while government and education sectors reported declining billings during the third quarter.

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