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Jay McIntosh

U.S. furniture factory orders climb 8% in July

 Furniture factory orders, shipments in July 2011

HIGH POINT — U.S. residential furniture factory orders were up 8% in July from a year ago, with some of the increase probably attributable to price increases, according to Smith Leonard.

Ken Smith, managing partner of the accounting and consulting firm, said a number of manufacturers were raising prices between May and August because of higher costs for raw materials and imported goods. Retailers also could have been ordering goods early before the prices went up, he said.

Still, the July gain meant that orders for the year to date were up 5% from the 2010 pace, a good showing considering that last year was up 9% from 2009, Smith wrote in the firm's monthly Furniture Insights newsletter.

Shipments in July were down 1% from July 2010, according to Smith Leonard's factory survey. Some of this could reflect the timing of shipments, since shipments a year ago were up 15% from July 2009, Smith said.

Despite the 8% order increase in July, only 52% of the survey participants reported increased orders, indicating that "some participants had some very healthy increases," Smith said. For the year to date, 58% reported increases in orders, down from 62% last month.

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