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Jay McIntosh

December furniture factory orders tumble 7%

2012 finishes with overall 4% rise
 Factory Table December 2012

HIGH POINT — U.S. residential furniture factory orders were down 7% in December from a year earlier, capping an up-and-down 2012 that saw orders for the year rise 4%, Smith Leonard reported.

About 58% of the participants in the accounting and consulting firm's monthly factory survey reported December order declines and some "were fairly severe," the firm said.

Shipments, which generally lag orders, were down 1% in December and up 6% for the year.

"It has been an interesting year with some good growth at times followed by slower times," Ken Smith, managing partner of Smith Leonard, said in his monthly Furniture Insights newsletter. "December new orders were 7% lower than December 2011, which seemed to be somewhat expected based on our conversations in December and early January.

"But December 2011 new orders were up 15% over December 2010, so the 7% decline, while not something we wanted, was not as bad as it might seem," he added.

Orders were up from 2011 in nine months last year and down in three months, the firm's survey indicated.

Smith said U.S. furniture factory orders are still down about 20% from their 2006 levels, "but each year lately, we have gained a bit."

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