Interior design firms continue to report increasing demand for design services as reflected by the October 2017 ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI). The October IDBI index was 54.7, slightly less than the score of 55.6 from September. While billings have trended downward since the summer, business conditions have remained positive as scores over 50 indicate revenue growth. For the 22nd straight month, firms have recorded scores in expansionary territory. The business inquiries index, which tracks potential work, moved down from a score of 54.3 in September to a score of 52.7 in October. Both indices were slightly below their three-month moving average. Expectations concerning the future also showed some moderation but still reflect an optimistic outlook. The six-month outlook index registered a score of 56 in October as compared to 58.6 in September.
The Midwest region registered an IDBI score of 50; the South 60.7; and the West 65.6. The Northeast region was the only region to report an IDBI score below 50.
The moderation in business conditions for design services appears to be consistent with the broader soft spot that the nonresidential and residential sectors experienced in the third quarter. According to the "advance" GDP estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, nonresidential spending on structures declined by a 5.2 percent annual rate, while residential fixed investment declined for the second straight quarter. Residential spending fell 6 percent over the summer, following a 7.3 percent drop in the spring.
This month’s special questions asked our survey panelists, “How interested are clients in healthy materials?” and “Has the healthy materials market changed in the past year?” Interior designers report that 62 percent of clients have an interest in healthy materials, with 11 percent being very interested, and 51 percent being somewhat interested. Of designers, 56 percent found there were more healthy material options available this year compared to last. Nearly one in three respondents did not know how the healthy materials market had changed in the past year.