North America’s Largest Woodworking Event | Tuesday–Friday | August 6–9, 2024


Industry & Trends

Furniture Orders Rise, but Manufacturers Can’t Keep Up


March 3, 2021 | Bill Esler

High Point, NC – Residential furniture orders rose 27% according to the latest monthly figures by industry financial advisers Smith Leonard. But a backlog in shipments is also growing, indicating manufacturers are encountering challenges in meeting demand. 

Gluing frames at 800-employee Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams facility in Taylorsville, NC.

Gluing frames at 800-employee Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams facility in Taylorsville, NC. 

The 27% order increase, reported by residential furniture manufacturers and distributors in December 2020 (versus December 2019) brought total orders for 2020 to an increase of 15% over 2019, despite several months of declines earlier in the year resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 84% of those surveyed reporting increases in sales, an accompanying backlog in shipments has also been on the rise, with the gap between shipments and orders growing. Shipments in December 2020 were up just 5% versus December 2019. And shipments actually decreased 6% in 2020 overall. 

“The good news was that some 74% of the participants reported increased shipments,” says Ken Smith, CPA, a founding partner of Smith Leonard who authors its monthly ‘Furniture Insights’ reports. “It is just that the amount of the increased shipments was not up as much as needed. Approximately 78% of the participants reported declines in shipments for the year.”

Many U.S. factories and warehouses struggle to find workers, while delivery of some raw materials slows due to lack of availability or logistics issues. Upholstered furniture companies Bassett Furniture and Craftmaster Furniture told local media of a spot shortage of latex foam. a result of the recent winter storms in Texas. Craftmaster, which ordinarily makes 4,000 furniture pieces a week, cut hours for its hundreds of employees to just 3 days this week, even though orders have increased by 40%.

Smith, who also heads the Smith Leonard Furniture Practice, says a shortage of workers is an acute issue. “The number of factory and warehouse employees was down 3% in November as well as payrolls,” Smith says. “We understand domestic manufacturers are doing all they can to hire people, but even when they do, the cost of training is really hurting productivity and is costly.”

Shipment delays can result in order cancellations, among other negative consequences, Smith says, noting, “The cost of furniture is going up whether for imports or for domestic materials.”


More Industry & Trend News

  • Lumber Prices Don’t Get Usual Spring Boost

    July 10, 2024

  • The Biggest Mass Timber Building in U.S. Planned for Oakland, CA

    July 10, 2024

  • Which Ten States Are Best for Home Remodeling Businesses?

    July 10, 2024

Register to Attend

Be part of North America’s largest woodworking show and conference.

Register Now

Apply to Exhibit

Grow your business at the premier global woodworking trade show.

Exhibit at IWF 2024

Show Hours & Location

International Woodworking Fair
August 6–9, 2024

8:30 AM–5:00 PM*
8:30 AM–2:00 PM*

*Building A opens 7:30 AM Tue-Fri

Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30313

Get Industry News & IWF Updates

Subscribe to IWF Network News.

Subscribe Now

Terms & Privacy Policy

© 2020 International Woodworking Fair, LLC Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

3520 Piedmont Rd NE #350, Atlanta GA 30305 | (404) 693-8333


Have questions about IWF? Check out our new AI chatbot and get info fast!

To get started, set your chat preference. Then click on the chat bar that appears in the lower right corner. Are you an Attendee or an Exhibitor?

Attendee Exhibitor

No Thanks

IWF 2024 Add to Calendar

Sync IWF 2024 with your favorite calendar program.

Notification Message

loading … please wait

Have Questions?

First let’s set your chat preference. Then, just click on the chat bar that appears. Are you an Attendee or an Exhibitor?

Attendee Exhibitor