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U.S. furniture factory orders climb 9% in August

HIGH POINT — U.S. furniture factories continued to post positive numbers in August with orders up 9% from the same month a year ago and shipments up 3%, Smith Leonard reported.

The gain in orders was on top of an 8% gain in August 2012 over 2011, "so we were comparing to some pretty good results in the previous year," Ken Smith, managing partner of the accounting and consulting firm, said in his monthly Furniture Insights newsletter.

 Factory shipments table for August

For the year to date, orders remained 6% ahead of the first eight months of 2012, according to the firm's factory survey. For the year, 78% of survey participants have reported increased orders.

Orders continued to outpace shipments, and the order backlog at factories in August was up 17% from a year earlier.

Smith said that based on reports from last month's High Point Market, business at retail was "pretty good" through Labor Day, softened with the government shutdown, and picked back up the week or so before market.

National reports also indicated that consumer confidence took a hit because of the government shutdown, he said.

"It seems that every time the economy and especially the furniture industry seems to gain some momentum, something like this happens. We hope that consumers are getting a bit used to some of this, but the confidence surveys do not seem to indicate that," Smith said.

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