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Furniture factory orders up 5% in December

Orders rise 6% for full year

HIGH POINT — Furniture factory orders in December were 5% higher than December 2012, capping off a year that saw year-over-year order growth in all but two months.

 Furniture factory orders

The monthly survey by the accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard also showed that December shipments were 4% ahead of December 2012, while December's order backlog was 14% ahead of the previous December.

For the 2013 calendar year, orders were 6% ahead of 2012, while shipments were up 5%.

"The good news is that individually, many companies have come back to 2006 and earlier year's top lines," Smith Leonard managing partner Ken Smith wrote in a newsletter accompanying the data. "Some even had record years."

But he said that was tempered by the fact that total orders in 2013 were still about 10% below 2006. It's not clear if the decline represents a drop in the amount of product moved or lower pricing of goods, "but whatever the cause, it has clearly been a tough seven years or so," Smith wrote.

"Obviously, this means that we have lost some companies to either bankruptcy or to just closing down," he added.

With the exception of February and March, each month in 2013 showed an increase in factory orders compared with the same month in 2012.

For 2014, Smith noted that January and February have been slow for many producers - largely because of the severe winter weather that has plagued the Midwest and Northeast. But he believes there's a good chance that business will be made up when the weather improves.

"Overall, when you step back and discount things like the weather, there is no real reason to think 2014 should not show more solid progress," Smith wrote.

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