The ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI), a key indicator of business conditions for interior design services, reversed course in August rebounding from a score of 49.3 in July to 52.4 in August. A score above 50 signifies growth/expansion while a score below 50 signifies contraction. The three-month moving average score for billings was essentially unchanged at 51.1 in August. The new projects inquiry index for August also achieved a higher score, 56.9, in August compared to 51.5 in July. Its three-month moving average improved to 54.0 in August from the 52.7 recorded for July. Consistent with the improved readings in August, panelists are more optimistic about the near term outlook. The six-month expectations index rose dramatically to a score of 53.9 in August from 46.5 in July, indicating a more positive sentiment about the future.
Except for firms in the South, firms from the other three regions indicated positive business conditions with scores above 50 led by the Midwest and followed by the Northeast and West, respectively (South: 46.1; Midwest: 61.2; Northeast: 54.1; West: 51.5).
This month’s special questions for our survey panelists were 1) What was your level of business by quarter over the last few years?, 2) Are the next three months are a good time for clients to make investments?, and 3) Will the next three months be a good time for small businesses in interior design to expand substantially? Thirty seven percent of interior designers indicated that the next three months will be a good time to expand substantially and are more optimistic than during the last two years. In 2017, 24 percent indicated it would be a good time to expand substantially and that number grew to 30 percent in 2018. Even with this increase year-over-year (YoY), a majority still feel it is not a good time to expand and many panelists articulated a feeling of uncertainty within the business community on many fronts (i.e., economic, political, etc.) when asked to explain further.