Furniture exports up 4% to $1.06B
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, October 13, 2012
HIGH POINT - U.S. furniture exports rose slightly during the first six months as the interest in American-made goods continued to grow in some overseas markets.
Based on Furniture/Today research, first-half shipments rose 4% to $1.06 billion from $1.02 billion during the same period on 2011.
Despite a 1% drop in shipments, Canada remained the top market for U.S.-made furniture, with $623.1 million in goods shipped there, compared with $632.3 million in the first half of 2011.
It was followed by Mexico, which increased its purchases by 16%, and China and the United Kingdom, which increased shipments by 2% and 10%, respectively.
The next largest market was Saudi Arabia, with $23.7 million in purchases, which held on to the No. 5 slot despite a 15% drop.
Others in the top 10 in order were Japan, up 20%; the United Arab Emirates, up 19%; Hong Kong, up 130%; Australia, up 14% and Venezuela, up 45%.
In these and other countries, observers say, the market for U.S. goods remains strong for a number of reasons, including perceived quality, durability and, in the case of case goods producers, the use of solid American hardwoods.
Wealthy Chinese consumers in particular are said to shun Chinese-made product and are willing to pay more for U.S.-made furniture, particularly if it has a solid wood story.
Solid wood bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture producer Simply Amish has been selling into the Canadian market since 2006 and has seen is sales there increase every quarter since, said Kevin Kauffman, co-founder and owner.
"We have just been seeing a steady increase in business," he said. "We have been adding dealers, but even same-store sales have been doing well."
In addition to the styling, he said, the Canadian market loves the company's quality. Retailers also like the fact that the company offers a lifetime warranty, and delivers goods on its own trucks.
Bruce Cochrane, CEO of domestic bedroom and dining room resource Lincolnton Furniture, said his company has received some inquiries from international markets since it launched last fall. But he said the company hasn't pursued that business because it wanted to make sure it had its own domestic business in order first.
One of those tasks was to lower lead times from 13-14 weeks to the current four. Now, he said, the company is in a better position to pursue international business.
"I think the Asian market in particular is going to be a growing opportunity for domestic furniture manufacturers," Cochrane said.