Commercial/Contract Furniture Industry News: September Orders & Sales Compare Positively Y/Y

  • In late October, Business Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) released its Monthly Market Pulse of net incoming orders booked and sales for the month of September. This data is collected, aggregated, and reported by a national accounting firm. Neither BIFMA nor any of its members ever have access to the raw data. The tables show the monthly data, as aggregated and reported, from 2017 to September 2021.
  • Since 2017, the BIFMA monthly data represents orders and sales for North America, including the US, Canada, and Mexico. It includes all BIFMA product categories, not just office furniture. The aggregated monthly data is reported in percentage form only.
  • Also, by member company survey, BIFMA quantifies industry size and product category sales quarterly, most recently as of 2Q21 versus 2Q20. Given that the number and population of member company respondents (typically, ~55 and historically, indicated to account for ~60% to ~70% of industry sales) are not consistent between the periods, we believe it is best to cite this data in broad strokes. By our math, the trailing four quarter sales of the three reporting North American geographies (US, Canada, and Mexico) peaked at ~$12.9 billion in 4Q19 and troughed at ~$9.6 billion (-25%) in 1Q21.
  • As the tables show, September orders and sales compared positively y/y. Including September, order comparisons have been positive for six consecutive months. Sales (~shipments) have now compared favorably for the last two months. Recall that the pandemic closings of 2020 make it difficult, if not impossible, to draw a meaningful inference from the sales data at mid-year. That said, the strength of recent order comparisons suggest that near-term y/y sales comparisons are likely to remain positive. Irrespective, every industry executive has cited cost/price gaps, and labor and supply chain inefficiencies in talking about the current business climate.
  • 55 BIFMA member companies reported order and sales data for September. BIFMA also discloses reported data by four company-size categories based on annual sales. Notably, September sales and order comparisons for each category also compared positively year-over-year.

Net NA Orders, Y/Y% Change

Source: BIFMA, Water Tower Research

Net NA Sales (Shipments), Y/Y% Change

Source: BIFMA, Water Tower Research


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