Furniture orders rise 13% from September 2022

Meanwhile, shipments were down 20% during the same period and down 18% year to date, according to Smith Leonard report

HIGH POINT — Orders for residential furniture were up 13% in September compared to the same month last year, while shipments fell 20% during the same year-over-year period.

According to the latest monthly Furniture Insights report by Smith Leonard, orders totaled $2.63 billion in September compared with $2.32 billion in September 2022. They were about level with August orders and up 1% year to date, rising to $20.5 billion, compared to $20.2 billion in the first nine months of 2022, when they were down 29% compared to 2021.

Some 72% of survey participants reported increased orders from September 2023 compared to September 2022. Year-to-date new orders were down for 63% of survey participants.                                                                                                                

“Once again while appearing to be a positive, we need to remember that in September 2022, new orders were down 26% compared to September 2021,” the report said. “The September 2021 and 2020 comparisons were also difficult since 2020 was such an abnormally high growth period.”

Shipments during the month of September totaled $2.27 billion, compared to nearly $2.86 billion in September 2022. September shipments fell 6.6% from $2.42 billion in August to $2.27 billion in September. The report noted that the 20% year-over-year decrease in September compares to a 5% decrease in September 2021 compared to September 2022. Year-to-date shipments were down 18% to $21.63 billion this year from $26.34 billion the same period in 2022.   

“Overall, shipments in dollars are ahead for the year over order dollars,” the report said. “All of this means that shipments have continued to pull from the backlogs. Plus, the increase in shipments in 2022 was also so large due to the extremely high backlogs, the comparisons of ’23 to ’22 are not what we would normally expect.” It added, “Shipments have clearly not followed orders since the pandemic as backlogs were built to unprecedented levels for most, and many of 2022 and 2023 shipments have been made from large carryover backlogs.”

Other highlights of the report were as follows:

+ Receivable levels were down 26% compared to September 2022, or “somewhat in line with year-to-date shipments and monthly shipments. We would expect these levels to get back in line in the next few months.”

+ Backlogs in September totaled $2.79 billion, down 45% from $5.1 billion in September 2022. They were up slightly from the $2.68 billion reported in September 2022. “It appears that backlogs are getting to something closer to pre-pandemic levels, if one can determine how much price increases are included in the numbers,” the report said.      

+ The level of factory and warehouse employees were down 7% year to date and about even with August, the report noted, while payrolls were down 8% year to date and down 7% from last year. “The payrolls seem in line with the number of employees,” the report said.  

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 and at 336-508-4616.

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