New furniture orders rise 12% in October

Smith Leonard Furniture Insights survey also cites 13% decline in October shipments during same year-over-year period

HIGH POINT — New furniture orders rose 12% in October from October 2022, while shipments were down 13% during the same period, according to the latest Furniture Insights report from Smith Leonard.

New orders totaled $2.35 billion during the month of October, compared to $1.92 billion in October 2022, with 62% of survey participants that include furniture manufacturers and distributors reporting increases from the previous year.

However, the report also put these numbers in perspective by noting major fluctuations during prior years. For example, October 2022 orders were down 30% from October 2021 and October 2021 orders were down 18% from October 2020. The report added that October 2020 orders were up 40% over October 2019, which was largely because of pandemic-related shutdowns in early 2020.

Year to date, orders totaled $22.84 billion, up 2% over the $22.45 billion reported the same period in 2022. In 2022, they were down 29% over the same 10-month period in 2021 and were up 17% from the same period of 2020.

In October, new orders were down 10.6% from the $2.63 billion reported in September.

Shipments totaled $2.3 billion in October, down 13% from the $2.51 billion in October 2022, and were down for 69% of survey participants. By comparison, October 2022 shipments were up 2% over October 2021, while year-to-date shipments in October totaled $23.94 billion, up 7% from the $29.15 billion in the first 10 months of 2022.

“So while new order comparisons were difficult, shipments were as well, as backlogs were built so much during 2020 and 2021,” the report said, adding, “Shipments were also affected by major freight issues.”

In October, shipments rose 1.5% over the $2.27 billion in September shipments.

Backlogs totaled $2.66 billion in October, down 43% from the $4.67 billion reported in October 2022 and down 5% from the $2.79 billion reported in September.

“Our survey results have been affected by several participants adjusting their backlog levels, since backlogs are not tracked in general ledgers, so over time, as orders were cancelled and other issues came up, several have had to restate their backlog numbers,” the report said.

October backlogs also were 4.5% below the $2.79 billion in backlogs reported in September.

Other highlights of the report were as follows:

+ Receivable levels were up 4% from September but were down 22% from October 2022, which the report said was somewhat in line with the 18% year-to-date decline in shipments.

+ Inventories fell 1% from September and were down 31% from October 2022, “the same decline as reported last month. We hope that most have, by now, rebalanced their inventories to levels that really seem to make sense for current business conditions.”

+ Factory and warehouse employment was down 7% from October 2022, but up 1% from September. “It appears that most of the people we talk with feel that the employee situation has become more manageable although there continues to be issues with finding the skills many manufacturing companies continue to need.”

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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