April furniture orders fell 19% compared to last year

Year-over-year shipments also were down 28% during the same period, with backlogs down 8% from March and 64% from April 2022

HIGH POINT — Furniture orders and shipments fell again during the month of April, part of an ongoing slowdown impacting the industry that might soon lead to dramatic industry layoffs.

According to Smith Leonard’s latest edition of Furniture Insights, new orders in April were down 19% compared to April 2022, while shipments fell 28% compared to the same year-over-year period.

New orders totaled $1.92 billion, compared to $2.4 billion in April 2022. They also were down 20% from April 2021, the report noted, adding that April 2023 orders were down for 84% of survey participants. There was, however, some variation among individual respondents, with some down just a few percentage points and others off by higher rates.

New orders also fell compared to March, from $2.24 billion to $1.92 billion in April, a 14.4% decrease.

April shipments totaled $2.3 billion, compared to $3.24 billion in April 2022, a 28% decrease, with some 88% of the survey participants reporting a decline.

Shipments also fell compared to March, from $2.9 billion to $2.3 billion in April, a 20% decline.

The report noted that with shipment dollars exceeding new-order dollars, backlogs fell 8% from March and 64% from April. Backlog totals for the month of April were $2.9 billion compared to $8.26 billion in April 2022 and $3.18 billion in March.

Other highlights of the report were as follows:

+ Receivable levels were down 31% from April 2022, which the report said was in line with the 28% year-over-year decline in shipments.

“Receivables were down more than the 14% decline in year-to-date shipments, but we suspect that is more of a timing issue since shipments have slowed more in recent months,” the report said. “Overall these levels seem reasonable.”

+ Inventories fell 12% compared to April 2022 but were down only 2% from March.

“It’s a bit hard to tell where we are on inventories at this point,” the report said. “We know some may have a bit too much in warehouses that were caught up in shortages due to freight and Asian issues earlier on, but it is not easy to tell if all those issues have rolled through at this time.”

+ There was a 9% decline in the number of factory and warehouse employees compared to April 2022, but 3% higher than the March numbers.

“So it appears that cuts are being made,” the report said, adding that they believe most of the cutbacks are because of attrition “as well as some underperformers as we are not hearing of significant layoffs. But if the decline in business continues, we expect more severe cuts will have to happen.”

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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