Is the future looking up for office furniture industry?

A qualified yes, says industry analyst Michael Dunlap.

A survey of executives at key furniture makers and suppliers registered a 51.45 quarterly office index as of October, the best result since July 2008.

Out of 10 measures, eight show an upbeat trend – these include shipments, new product development, and capital expenditures. A few job-related sectors are still below 50 (although showing a trend towards improvement) – employment, hours worked, per-employee costs and personal outlook.

For Dunlap, a noted industry analyst, this snapshot of the furniture business shows an improving business climate. “More than 42 percent reported they are optimistic about the future. It was only 25 percent in April,” said Dunlap, the principal in Michael A. Dunlap & Associates LLC, which conducted the survey.

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 predicted. “There may be some bumps ahead in the road, because this recovery is going very slowly.”

True that – the latest results from the Federal Reserve’s survey of economic conditions nationwide show furniture companies in Richmond suffering from lowered demands and closing plants.

In other words – still rough going, but the furniture industry looks like it’s turned the corner!