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From Home Furnishing Business

Smith Leonard: January Furniture Orders, Shipments off 7 Percent

By Home Furnishings Business in on April 2007 New orders for residential furniture fell 7 percent in January 2007 compared to January 2006, to $2.02 billion, roughly in line with same-month declines of 6 percent in December and 8 percent in November. New orders were 8 percent higher in January than in December, largely due to the holidays.

That€™s according to the March edition of Furniture Insights, a monthly survey of manufacturers and distributors published by the High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard LLC. The March addition appears later than usual due to the early High Point Market this Spring.

In January, some 45 percent of the participants reported increases in orders, compared to only 32 percent last year. Also for comparative purposes, January orders in 2006 were 6 percent higher than the January 2005 results.

January shipment of $1.87 billion were also 7 percent lower than January 2006, compared to a 5 percent decline in December over December shipments. Shipments were 9 percent lower than December shipments. These results were similar to last January 2006 compared to December. Backlogs increased 7 percent to $1.68 billion over December as new order dollars were higher than shipments in dollars. Backlogs were 7 percent lower than January 2006.

Receivable levels were 6 percent lower than January 2006, in line with the 7 percent decline in shipments. Receivables were 4 percent lower than December levels in spite of the 9 percent decline in shipments. Inventory levels were 6 percent lower than January 2006 levels and in line with incoming orders and shipments. Inventory levels increased 1 percent over December, but still appear to be in reasonable good shape considering business in general.

The number of factory employees was 11 percent lower than January 2006, but actually increased 1 percent over December levels.

Factory payrolls were 3 percent lower than January 2006. January 2006 payrolls were 8 percent lower than January 2005, and Smith Leonard indicated that could mean some leveling off with payrolls as companies adjust to current conditions.

Among economic indicators, there was a slight drop in consumer confidence in March, with the Consumer Confidence Index falling to 107.2 after rising to 111.2 in February.

Existing home sales rose again in February, reaching the highest level since last April, according to The National Association of Realtors. Existing home sales rose 3.9 percent over January but were still 3.6 percent below February 2006.

New home sales, though, fell 3.9 percent decline in February, and were 18.3 percent below February 2006 levels. Housing starts were 9 percent above January starts but were a whopping 28.5 percent below February 2006 starts.

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