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US Office Furniture industry projected to see modest growth in 2013

Monday 18 March 2013

The office furniture industry will continue to move with the U.S. economy, posting modest growth in 2013 and then accelerating next year, according to an updated industry outlook.
IHS Global Insight, in its latest quarterly outlook for the Grand Rapids-based Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, projects North American shipment growth of 2.1 percent to $9.5 billion in 2013.
As economic growth picks up, North American shipments may grow 9.0 percent in 2014 to $10.3 billion, according to the new quarterly outlook for BIFMA.
Economic outlooks generally see the U.S. economy growing modestly through 2013 after starting the year flat, then gradually picking up in the latter months of the year.
Economist Brian Long expects the office furniture industry will face a continuation of slow economic growth for at least into the latter half of 2013.
“We have a lot of hurdles to overcome right now,” said Long, director of supply chain management at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business. “We’re still looking at a relatively slow recovery well into summer.”
PNC Bank economists predict Real GDP growth of 1.7 percent in 2013 and 2.7 percent in 2014.
Economists at the University of Michigan, in their last outlook issued in November, projected Real GDP growth of 2.0 percent for all of 2013 and 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter alone. U of M projects an overall 2.6-percent growth in Real GDP for 2014, with the fourth quarter of 2014 posting gains of 2.7 percent.
“We expect that the U.S. economy will accelerate over the next two years, but that growth will remain moderate,” states the U of M outlook.
An updated U of M outlook is due out soon.
In a February outlook, Moody’s Analytics was more optimistic. Moody’s predicted 2 percent Real GDP growth through midyear and 3 percent in the second half of 2013. Real GDP growth could near 4 percent for 2014-15, according to Moody’s latest outlook.
Across the office furniture industry, North American shipments for 2012 dipped to $9.27 billion in 2012 from $9.37 billion in 2011, according to BIFMA.
The industry started out 2013 with relatively flat first quarter shipments, followed by declines of 2.7 percent in the second quarter and 4.0 percent in the third, according to BIFMA data. Shipments rebounded to grow by 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter over the same period a year earlier, although that wasn’t enough to offset the two quarterly declines.

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