ASID Interior Design Billings Index for Fall 2011
Although early indications pointed to another positive month, the ASID Interior Design Billings Index in December slipped just below the line into negative territory, at 49.4, continuing a decline in November (50.2) from October (51.4), when the Index hit its highest point in the second half of the year. The Inquiries Index, however, stayed positive at 52.0 (compared to 53.8 in November), suggesting that clients may be holding off on projects until the economy shows stronger signs of sustaining a recovery. The Interior Design Index fell behind the AIA Billings Index for the second month in a row; it stayed at 52, the same as for October.
Decline Across Billing Sectors
Firms of all specializations with one exception, multi-family / senior housing, reported billing declines. Earlier this year a pattern of growth across all sectors was evident, but just the opposite existed in the last part of 2011
Regionally, firms in the Midwest, South and West regions reported gains in December, leaving the Northeast showing a decline. The West region, in particular, reported increased billings in 10 out of the past 12 months. The Midwest and Northeast were more erratic but in general reported growth during the first 6 months and declines in the last six months.
Product Sales, Hiring Are Up
Despite the year-end dip, respondents reported substantial increases (10% or more) in product sales among a large number of categories, compared to those of the previous quarter. Products related to home remodeling projects were especially strong.
Panelists in this month's survey were asked about non-labor costs and hiring expectations over the coming three months. ). The overall picture for prices remains benign. Four out of ten respondents (39% of respondents) expect prices to rise, but by less than 5 percent. In the past 3 months, 10 percent of firms report hiring at least one employee. Nine percent of respondents indicated that their firm will increase employment over the next three months. This is a positive improvement from the four percent that reported such intentions in the previous quarter.
Designers Are Optimistic About 2012
Although the ASID Billings Index ended the quarter below 50, ASID firms expect business conditions to be better in the future. In December, the ASID Business Outlook Index was 74.3, up from the prior quarter's index of 56.4.