The ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) slipped from a score of 58.3 in July to 53.1 in August. The index is above the key breakeven threshold of 50 meaning most firms recorded increased billings this summer. The index’s three-month moving average score edged up slightly to 52.4 but was essentially the same as July’s 52.1. The new project inquiry index score for August also remained steady at 51.2, compared to 51.6 in July, and signals a pick-up in design services in the near future.
While August’s performance was similar to July’s regional IDBI readings, the scores continue to reflect variability in business conditions. Looking at the three-month moving average, firms in the West increased four points to a score of 56; the South posted a score of 54.8, nearly the same as July’s 55.4; and Midwest firms recorded a score of 51.6, similar to July’s score of 52.4. Firms in the Northeast remained steady but in negative territory with a reading of 45.1 compared to a score of 45.2 in July. These steady as you go readings are consistent with the panel’s positive six-month business conditions outlook, with an August score of 55.4 just slightly lower than July’s score of 56.9.
This month’s special questions asked our survey panelists if the next three months will be a good time for small interior design businesses to expand substantially. Approximately 70 percent of panelists indicated it is not a good time for expansion. The results are slightly down from the 76 percent who were against expansion in 2017. This cautious sentiment is held most strongly by sole practitioners, as 82 percent feel it is not a good time to expand. While the majority in every region agreed with this insight, the Midwest had the highest concentration of those saying it would not be a good time for expansion (86 percent versus 65 percent in the South and West).