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Wood Furniture Increases Dramatically At Spring Market

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Wood furniture on display at the 2004 International Home Furnishings Market here was up more than 7% from the previous market, according to an independent survey. Increases were discovered in most major categories of wood furniture, reports the Furniture Styles/Material Use Survey administered by Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc. (AHMI). The survey began in 1934 to track wood species and design style trends in home furnishings at the High Point market. It is completed each spring with crews visiting showrooms to record bedroom and dining room groups, wall units, entertainment centers and home office on display for 2004. The results are measured against previous markets. An estimated 70,000 manufacturers, sales representatives, furnishings buyers, interior designers, suppliers, and news media attended the market. The attendance increased between 10 and 30 percent from Spring 2003, most exhibitors reported, and attendees were placing orders for the upcoming summer and fall. Cherry, red oak, maple and pine continue to be the top four species on display in all wood furniture categories. Rubberwood, parawood, koto, mindi, alder, ash, and walnut advanced in numbers. "Early reports indicated that this might be a market where we see the furniture industry begin to turn things around,” said AHMI President Mark Barford, CAE. "We saw more new product in a variety of styles than we have seen in the past three years. The manufacturers were excited with the new product and the retailers were responding very favorably.” Furniture manufacturers know that consumers like wood and want wood, Barford said. Designers are using a fresh look with new finishes to move people into furniture retail stores. According to the survey results for bedroom and dining room groups, cherry topped all species with 15% of the furniture on display. That figure was down 2% from 2003. Red oak was second with 10%, followed by hard maple at 9%, and pine at 8%. Other species like rubberwood and Asian exotics increased to 11% of the bedroom and dining room categories. That was a gain of 3% from 2003. American wood species that reported modest gains were white oak, ash and alder, increasing from 4% to 5% of the species on display. Painted on wood, printed on wood, overlays, and brassglass- metal combinations were down slightly to comprise 19% of the bedroom and dining room groups. The volume of wood furniture on display from key American species was mixed compared to five years ago. In 1999, the survey found higher levels of cherry at 16.8%, red oak at 14.6% while hard maple was only 8.5% of the bedroom and dining room groups on display. Asian and exotic species amounted to 3.2% of the wood furniture in these categories. The bedroom and dining room styles did not change appreciably from last market, as American and Contemporary continued to dominate. In the traditional European styles, English, French, Italian and Spanish were ranked in that order. The same was true for wall units, entertainment centers, and home office. In 1999, just over 51% of the bedroom and dining room groups were American styling and Contemporary accounted for another 24.8%. French, English and Italian rounded out the top five. An increase in wood use was reported again in 2004 for products in the home office, entertainment center and wall units categories. The number of pieces on display this market increased almost 10% from 2003. The volume has doubled, however, since 1999. According to the 2004 numbers, red oak [23%] cherry [17%], hard maple [11%], white oak [8%] and pine [8%] were the most popular wood species used in wall units, entertainment centers and home office. Painted on wood, printed on wood, overlays, and brass-glass-metal combinations totaled 10%, down 1% from the previous market. In 1999, red oak had 25.8%, cherry had 18.2%, pine had 13.8%, hard maple had 7.5% and white oak had 6.2% of the home office, entertainment center and wall unit pieces on display. The survey crew discovered 28% of the products shown were made in the USA, and 72% were imported or made from a combination of U.S. and imported pieces. The numbers reflect a 8% increase for imports from the previous year. The origin was a major shift from five years ago when 48% of goods were made in the USA and 52% were imports or made from a combination of U.S. and imported pieces. The survey also asks about the different types of construction used by the manufacturers. A combination of solids and veneered panels dominated the construction techniques with only a few companies offering furniture made from solid wood. When quality is of the highest priority, the bedroom headboards and dresser tops, dining room table tops, and major portions of the wall units, entertainment centers, and home computer stations will incorporate the use of beautifully matched veneers along with the solids. The vast majority of these were made from a combination of solids and veneered panels. "The survey found many of the same percentage results as 2003 but significant increases in the total number of units," Barford said. "There was almost a 5% increase in bedroom and dining room groups and more than 9% increase in entertainment centers and wall units. These are significant changes from the past three surveys and speak well for 2004.” Imports continue to take a growing share of the market for wood furniture. The species mix has grown to include Asian, Eastern European and South American species. The survey is an unbiased attempt to track bedroom and dining room groups, identifying the units by style and the materials used in the manufacturing process. Entertainment centers, wall units and home office categories were added in 1999. The survey crews walk by every showroom and include the tally of wood imitations, metal and glass, and other materials to reflect what is happening in all segments of the market. The American Walnut Manufacturers [AWMA], Zionsville, IN, is the original association sponsoring the survey. The High Point, NC-based AHMI trade association assumed primary responsibility in 2002. AHMI represents more than 190 hardwood lumber producers and distributors from the Appalachian Mountain region. Its mission is to promote Appalachian hardwood lumber and products around the world. For more information, contact AHMI at (336) 885-8315 or visit online at www.appalachianwood.org.

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