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2012 Standstill forecast for US Office Furniture Industry

Friday 9 December 2011

Slow economic and job growth in the United States is expected to bring the office furniture industry's sales improvement of the past few quarters to a halt next year according to an updated outlook from the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA).
After the 14.6% growth in 2011 North American shipments up to $9.5 billion - less than earlier predicted - the industry will experience a slight dip in 2012. The outlook, prepared for BIFMA by IHS Global Insight and updated quarterly, now projects a 1.7 decline in industrywide shipments next year.
The previous BIFMA outlook, issued in August, projected 17.6 percent shipment growth for 2011 and 7.5 percent in 2012.
The updated outlook reflects the steady easing of shipment growth throughout 2012 and softness in key economic indicators for the industry such as hiring and new office construction, BIFMA Executive Director Tom Reardon said. As a result, "there's a lot of caution in the marketplace right now," Reardon said.
The office furniture industry has recovered fairly well since mid-20120 from a harsh downturn brought on by the 2009 recession, posting 5.8 percent shipment growth in 2010 to $8.3 billion, with even larger quarterly gains late that year and early this year.
The industry started 2011 with a 25.6 percent year-to-year increase for the first quarter and has since experienced a steady easing as the year progressed. Shipments for the second quarter grew 19.8 percent and 11.5 percent in the third quarter.
IHS Global Insight projects shipment growth of 5.3 percent for the fourth quarter, Reardon said.
Part of the slight percentage decline projected for 2012 stems from year-to-year comparisons to a time of solid growth, he said.
"We're comparing to a year ago when we had some pretty decent numbers," Reardon said.

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