ASID Interior Design Billings Index for Winter 2012
ASID firms reported continued growth in revenue In March as shown by the ASID Interior Design Billings Index score of 62.5. ASID survey respondents reported increased billings for the third consecutive month. Survey results signal growth in the industry as the index gained 13 points from its December report. In addition, the Inquiry Index for March at 65.8 is well into positive growth territory.
Over the last three months, ASID members' revenue increases outpaced those of architecture firms. Moreover, the ASID Billings Index has shown a pattern of higher readings than the AIA index over the past 17 months for which there are comparable data (12 out of the 17 months). The upturn in billings at interior design firms is supported by general strength in the economy.
Improvement Is Broad-based
Firms of all sizes posted a billings index of 50 or above. Firms employing between 2 and 9 people led the way, with their responses yielding a billings index of 64.9. Sole practitioner firms reported dramatic increases, as the December 2011 index was 47 and by March the billing index jumped to 62.4.
Business conditions continue to improve in all regions of the country throughout the first quarter of 2012. Firms in the Midwest, South and West regions reported gains in March, as did the Northeast, which had reported a decline in February. The West region, in particular, reported increased billings in 13 out of the past 15 months.
Billings Results Vary by Sector
Single homes, Office, Hospitality, and Government/Institution reported increases in billings for the quarter. Multi-family/senior housing, retail, entertainment, healthcare/medical, and education reported decreases in billings for the quarter. There has been some backsliding since January when all sectors were above 50. Whether the recent declines are due to seasonal or market forces are uncertain at this time.
Product Sales Improve Moderately, Hiring Is Up
Respondents reported increased product sales in most categories. However, in general, fewer respondents had increases across products in March that were as high as those reported at the end of December.
Panelists in this month's survey were asked about non-labor costs and hiring expectations over the coming three months. ). In the past 3 months, 11 percent of firms report hiring at least 1 employee. Sixteen percent of respondents indicated that their firm will increase employment over the next three months. This is a positive improvement from the nine percent that reported such intentions in December and the four percent reporting in October.
Improvement Likely to Level Off in Second Quarter
Although the ASID Billings Index ended the quarter well above 50, ASID firms expect business conditions to be about the same in the future. In March 2012, the ASID Business Outlook Index was 72.3, down slightly from the prior quarter's index of 74.3. Both the Conference Board's consumer expectations and ASID confidence indicators rebounded in December. The cumulative gain over the past several months has put both indexes at their highest since the spring consistent with the tenor of economic data for the first quarter of 2012. The increases are consistent with the tenor of economic data. The outlook for confidence is for slow improvement throughout the year.