Review Of US Office Furniture Industry

28 Jun 2008 • by Natalie Aster

The office furniture industry performed very well throughout the 1990s as the domestic economy has shifted from being manufacturing driven to one where services play an increasingly important role.

However, the new millennium has been less fortunate for office furniture manufacturers. Between 2000 and 2003, office furniture shipments in the United States fell by more than one-third. This was the largest decrease in shipments for over 20 years. The market has since recovered a bit reaching a value of $11,420 million in 2007.

Office employment growth climbed by 1.2% in 2007. This year may see an even smaller increase of only 1.0%. However, we anticipate a modest acceleration to 1.7% next year and 1.9% in 2010.

Office furniture purchases advanced by 5.5% in 2007. Sales are expected to accelerate to 6.8% this year. This is surprising in light of the dire economic circumstances in the USA and can only be explained by pre-committed orders to fill newly constructed office space that will reach completion this year. The “moment of truth” will come in 2009 and 2010. Growth for office furniture shipments for the next two years will be in the 2.2 to 2.7% range. If our predictions are correct, the market value will reach $ 12.8 billion in 2010. This is still 3.6% lower than the previous peak of $13.3 billion reached in 2000.

Wood office furniture accounted for $3,106 million or 27.2% in 2007. During the past ten years it fluctuated between 21.9% and 27.2%. Given the more expensive nature of wooden furniture it generally gains market share when corporate earnings are strong rather than during periods of fiscal constraint.

“Systems” represents the largest market segment with a share of almost 1/3. Surprisingly, over the period 1997 to 2007 this segment declined by 14.6%. Filing cabinets also fell as technology continues to reduce the demand for paper storage The fastest growing segment was storage furniture, which increased 37.3% over the last 10 years. Seating, desks and tables, also outpaced the overall office furniture industry.

California is by far the largest furniture market in the USA. As of 2007, this state accounted for $1,359 million, followed by Texas, New York, and Florida. These four states account for $3,612 million -- or almost one-third -- of the US market.