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A business consultancy, based in London, England, John Sacks' JSA Consultancy Services provides expert, in-depth, information advice and guidance as to how to exploit successfully the office furniture and interiors markets in Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan.

US 3rd quarter figures show some improvement

Wednesday 28 October 2009

The latest activity index affirms the office furniture industry has begun moving off the bottom and toward a slow recovery from its worst-ever downturn.
The overall index from Michael A. Dunlap & Associates in West Olive, based on a survey of executives at furniture makers and suppliers, registered a 51.45 as of October, the higher level since July 2008.
The latest reading compares to a 48.30 just three months earlier and a 41.45 in April.
Several of the 10 categories measured in the quarterly trends survey — gross shipments, order backlog, employment levels, hours worked, capital and tooling expenditures, new product development and personal outlook — all “improved significantly” from July, Dunlap & Associates reported this morning.
Four of the categories, though, still registered below 50: Employment, hours worked, per-employee costs and personal outlook. The index uses a scale of zero to 100.
The October survey indicates the industry likely bottomed out on the second quarter, Michael Dunlap said.
“The continued increases in shipment, orders, and others factors during the third quarter suggest that we have passed into a new stage of recovery,” Dunlap said. “There may be some ‘bumps’ ahead in the road, because this recovery is going very slowly.”
The last outlook issued in August from the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association expects the industry to finish 2009 with a 31.0 percent decline in North American shipments to $7.7 billion, a sales level that was first surpassed in 1992. Next year should bring a subsequent, albeit much smaller, 1 percent shipment decline to $7.6 billion, as the industry begins to rebound in the latter half of the year, according to BIFMA.
More industry executives responding to Dunlap’s trends survey last month were positive than in the prior index: 42 percent said they were optimistic about the future, versus 25 percent in July.
The pace of the office furniture industry’s recovery will depend on how quickly the national economy rebounds. Business historically lags a national recovery from recessions.
In his monthly U.S. economic briefing issued this week, Comerica Inc. chief Dana Johnson held to his prediction of a 2.0 percent Real GDP for the fourth quarter and 4.5 percent for the first quarter of 2009. Johnson sees Real GDP growing to 5.5 percent in next year’s second quarter before leveling off at 4.0 percent on the latter half of the year.

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