U.S. Economic Recovery Underway

March 3, 2004
Modest Office Furniture Industry Growth Expected in 2004
Grand Rapids, MI-based Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association (BIFMA) International recently released the latest U.S. office furniture industry forecast prepared by the economic consulting organization, Global Insight. Following three consecutive years of decline, the industry is expected to post positive shipment gains in calendar year 2004. The latest forecast for 2004 predicts 5.6% percent growth in shipments to a level of $8.95 billion.

The office furniture industry is still struggling to pull out of an extended period of decline, finishing out 2003 (4th qtr.) with shipments virtually flat as compared to the 4th quarter of 2002. For calendar year 2003 (on an annualized basis) the industry declined an estimated 4.7 percent to $8.47 billion.

The latest forecast calls for one more quarter of flat sales before seeing some modest increases during the second quarter of 2004. While many of the traditional drivers of office furniture consumption are already showing signs of improvement, Global Insight expects that it will take some time to translate into increased orders and shipments of office furniture.

This latest projection is slightly more optimistic as compared to the previous forecast, largely due to an improving office construction outlook and brighter prospects for corporate profitability.

Established in 1973, BIFMA International is a not-for-profit trade association of furniture manufacturers and suppliers addressing issues of common concern.

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