Strong Outlook For Furniture Makers

    HIGH POINT, N.C.—The residential furniture industry should be more upbeat than it has been in months and should be looking forward to stronger sales in the coming months.

    That is the substance of recent projections from the American Furniture Manufacturers Association. AFMA has projected that shipments of residential furnishings will rise this year by 4.3 percent, up from $22.97 billion last year to $23.94 billion in 2002.

    And the AFMA forecast for 2003 looks even better, as the association predicts that sales will go up by 5.3 percent next year — reaching almost $25.2 billion in shipments.

    “It’s no secret that 2001 was a disappointing year for the furniture industry, with shipments declining more than 10 percent. But we think the worst of the slowdown is behind us,” said Joseph P. Logan, AFMA vice president of financial services.

    “Our manufacturers are reporting healthy sales for the first few months of this year, and, in fact, sales are even stronger than we had anticipated this early in the year.

    “We expect the recovery to build gradual momentum as the year progresses and even more so in 2003,” added Logan.

    Wood furniture shipments are expected to increase by 5 percent this year and 6.2 percent next year. Upholstery should rise by 3.8 percent this year and by 4.3 percent in 2003.

    The Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics at the University of Michigan prepared the AMFA forecast. The association represents more than 200 U.S. furniture makers and 250 suppliers to the industry.

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