New orders for furniture registered their biggest year-over-year increase in April, jumping 15 percent compared with April 2017, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey.
“We felt like business had picked up some going into the High Point Market but did not expect that kind of result,” said Ken Smith, partner at High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard, which conducts the monthly survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors.
“One factor that likely had an impact was that the market was one week earlier this year, leaving more time for market orders to come in before month end. In addition, we did hear that there was more order writing this market than usual.”
A big order month in April – with 79 percent of survey participants reporting increases and several who were off pace down only a half or single percentage point – came on the heels of only 42 percent reporting increases in March.
With the large April increase, year-to-date new orders were up 6 percent over the first four months of 2017.
April shipments rose 10 percent compared with April 2017, when they were only up two percent over April 2016. March 2018 shipments were also only up 2 percent over March 2017. Year to date, shipments were up 3 percent over the same period a year ago. In the first quarter, shipments were only up 1 percent over the first quarter of 2017.
The jump in April orders led to a 6 percent increase in backlogs compared with March and 6 percent higher than April 2017.
Smith also noted that while housing starts are improving and new home sales have continued to pick up, “existing home sales are struggling with low inventories, higher prices and higher interest rates. We need people to be moving in these summer months to generate furniture sales.”