Optimism rules in the U.S. office furniture industry
The BIFMA – Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Associations is forecasting U.S. office furniture industry revenues will grow 4.9 percent to $12.2 billion in 2014.
This figure is confirmed by Michael Dunlap’s quarterly survey among U.S. office furniture executives. They expect a growth of 5% this year.
Their personal outlook is at its highest level since January 2006, before the recession sent the industry into another tailspin, according to analyst Michael Dunlap.
That improved perspective is the highlight of Dunlap’s latest survey, which shows “the industry is on solid ground and on a positive track.”
In the survey, furniture industry executives reported gross shipments were “significantly lower” while order backlog was “slightly lower.”
Dunlap described the declines as somewhat surprising because both improved during the first half of 2013.
“They are still on solid ground,” he said.
Both manufacturers and suppliers reported an uptick in work hours and a dip in employee costs.
Capital expenditures bumped up as tooling expenditures slipped. New product development fell while raw material costs rose slightly.
Dunlap describes the changes in capital expenditures, tool expenditures and new product development as modest changes. He found the decline in new product development puzzling.
He added that the changes in raw material cost and employee cost are always a concern and rarely show much improvement. Since the launch of the survey in August 2004, the most frequently cited perceived threats to the industry’s success have been the costs of healthcare, steel and wood.