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Jay McIntosh

Furniture factory orders dip 3% in February

 Factory Table February 2012

HIGH POINT — Furniture factory orders in February were down 3% from the same month a year ago, but a January gain still left orders ahead 2% for the year to date, Smith Leonard reported.

Shipments from U.S. residential furniture factories also were down in February, by 2%, although they remained up 4% for the first two months, the accounting and consulting firm said.

Ken Smith, managing partner of Smith Leonard, said in the firm's monthly Furniture Insights newsletter that the results of a factory survey were "very mixed," with 58% of participants reporting increased orders for the month. But those gains were not enough to outweigh the decline in dollars among all factories.

Smith said the February declines were "in line with expectations" based on his conversations with factory executives. Business has been up and down, he said, although some economic factors are moving in the industry's favor.

"We continue to believe that the residential furniture industry will benefit from the improved housing situation. New construction will take a bit longer to see the results, as those homes have to be built and then sold before any furniture will be bought, but we believe existing home sales will help the industry until new homes can have some more effect," he said.

Smith also said he heard plenty of positive comments at the April High Point Market, adding, "Let's keep our fingers crossed that this momentum carries forward."

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