Business conditions at interior design firms remain consistent as February’s Interior Design Billings Index was below 50 for the third straight month (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings, a score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings). The index score of 46.0 in February was essentially unchanged from January’s score of 45.4. The three-month moving average also remains in contractionary territory at 46.6 compared to January’s 48.7. The new project inquiry category was also unchanged in February at 54.6 but in positive territory. Index values in the new project category have been above 50 for five of the last six months, allowing the three-month moving average to stay constant at 52.9 in February.
The panelists’ six-month outlook has slightly improved with the six-month expectations index nudging up from a score of 51.7 in January to 54.2 in February.
Residential and business investment has declined since mid-2018 and this trend appears to echo the recent weakness in the overall design industry. Jack Kleinhenz, consulting economist for ASID, points out that recent housing industry releases suggest that housing may be on solid footing and could support an improved outlook for the design industry this year. Consumer confidence has improved and rates are about a half of a percentage point lower than they were in December.
Optional Bonus Questions for February: Business and Practice Resources
When asked what resources respondents access to advance their business and practice, over 80 percent answered networking opportunities such as chapter and industry events and trade shows, with 67 percent indicating that they also use industry representatives and showrooms as a resource. Respondents emphasized a more personal, face-to-face connection when it comes to advancing their business and practice.