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US furniture imports likely to slump 16.52% in '09: PIERS

US furniture imports likely to slump 16.52% in '09: PIERS

Newark: PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, a division of UBM Global Trade, has released trade statistics that gauge the recession's impact on the top U.S. import commodity by volume, furniture.

In first-quarter 2009, inbound containerized shipments of furniture fell more than 87,000 teu, for a 19.2% decline compared with the same period a year ago.

Based on first-quarter results, PIERS is forecasting a 16.52% decline in furniture imports for 2009 compared to 2008's shipments. This year's projected total teu for inbound furniture of 1,452,574 teu represents a 27% drop from the peak of 1,990,071 teu imported in 2005.

Overall, 2008 was a year in which furniture imports grew 73.55% -- but, against 2007's steep drop of 48.39% -- this is seen as regaining ground lost when the U.S. housing bubble went bust. Now global recession looks likely to reverse the recovery.

An analysis of 2008 trade data on source countries shows that China, accounting for 62.4% of total known value of imports, was the top supplier of furniture to the U.S. However, China's rate of growth in furniture imports -- 66.73% -- was surpassed by Vietnam, with a 154.93% growth rate, albeit from a lower volume base. As a result, China's share of the U.S. market for imports dropped 2.83%, while Vietnam gained 2.74%. This is evidence of the continued shift in production away from China to lower-cost countries, a trend that is expected to accelerate post-recession.

The global recession also slowed U.S. furniture exports. After positive growth of 7.05% in 2008, a 19.89% drop is forecast for 2009. While China is also the top market country for U.S. exports, its share was a modest 6.07% of total known value of exports last year. While China took in 8.95% more exports in 2008, Saudi Arabia, with a 4.76% share, led growth with a 58.06% surge.

In 2008, the top importer of furniture was Ikea, while Herman Miller was the leading exporter of furniture by volume. California led the states as an importer. North Carolina ranked as the number 2 importer, yet another indication of the furniture sector's globalization. Florida was the top furniture exporting state, followed by New Jersey.

These findings are based on trade data through first-quarter 2009 from PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, the primary source of U.S. waterborne trade information. These and other findings are reported in the latest PIERS Sector SnapShot, a periodic summary of containerized import-export trade in bellwether commodities. The PIERS Furniture Sector SnapShot 1Q09 can be downloaded for free from the PIERS website at www.piers.com/furnituresnapshot. [29/07/09]


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