November furniture orders rise 26% from prior year

Furniture Insights survey indicates shipments are down 16% during same period

HIGH POINT — November furniture orders rose 26% from November 2022, while the pace of shipments fell 16% during the same period, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey by Smith Leonard.

New orders totaled $2.44 billion, up 26% from $1.94 billion in November 2022 and up 3.7% from the $2.35 billion reported in October.

The year-over year rise in orders marks the seventh consecutive month they have increased by double digits, an indication that shipments could follow in the months ahead. Two-thirds of survey participants reported an increase in orders in November compared to a year ago.

Year-to-date orders totaled $25.3 billion, up 4% over the $24.4 billion reported the same period of 2022 although the year to-date orders in November 2022 were down 34% from the same period in 2021, the report said.

“As we’ve stated previously, comparisons to prior years have been difficult due to the unprecedented circumstances impacting the industry since mid-2020, but that does seem to be normalizing, even if still not at levels we’d prefer.”

Shipments totaled $2.14 billion in November, up 16% from the $2.54 billion reported in November 2022 and down 7.3% from the $2.3 billion reported in October. Year-over-year November shipments were down for two-thirds of survey participants. Year-to-date shipments totaled $26.2 billion, down 17% from the $31.7 billion reported the same period in 2022.

“So despite recent improvements in new orders, trends continue to be affected by many companies shipping from their historically high backlogs through much of 2022,” the report said, adding that November backlogs totaled $2.76 billion, up 3% from $2.66 billion in October but down 35% from the $4.25 billion reported in November 2022.

Receivable levels were down 13% from November 2022, which the report said is in line with the year-to-date drop in shipments. Receivables were down 5% from October, which the report said “may be a result of timing issues around the holidays or more slow-paying customers on average, given the slight decrease in shipments.”

Meanwhile, inventories were down 29% from November 2022, which the report said is consistent with the 35% decline in backlogs, an indication that “most companies have rebalanced their inventory levels to match current operations.” Inventories were flat compared to October.

The report said that the number of factory and warehouse employees was down 6% from November 2022 and flat with October. It said this indicates “that most companies have right-sized their teams, though most are still eager to add good people when available.”

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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