The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Interior Design Billings Index had its first decline in the quarter ending December 31, 2012 following 14 consecutive months of growth.
The December 2012 Billings index of 47.2 indicates a contraction in sales from the November level of 58.9. However, an Inquiry index of 54.4 in December 2012 implies that a greater percentage of ASID respondents expect to experience growth in the coming months.
"Looking back over the last three years, the Billings Index has always declined in December relative to November," commented ASID economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Based on the historical data and the positive status of the Inquiries index, it is reasonable to expect a return to moderate growth this year."
ASID Interior Design Billings Index Highlights
Sector and Regional Index Averages
Residential: 50, Commercial: 43, Institutional: 41
Midwest: 49: Northeast: 40.9, South: 48, West: 49
Residential Sector Posts Strongest Showing
Only the ASID firms serving the single-family residential sector showed consistent billing growth over the quarter. While the multi-family residential sector varied above and below 50 during the year, the single-family sector has reported steady increases in billings month over month.
In the commercial sector, for the first two months of the fourth quarter, the office and hospitality sectors reported increased billings. However, in December the entertainment and retail sectors showed downturns. Whileinstitutional billings earlier in the year appeared to be healthy across all sectors, recent monthly scores of below 50 indicate revenues have fallen off across the board in government, education and healthcare.
Billings Down in All Regions, but Positive for the Year
All regions reported a reduction in billings from November to December. Throughout 2012, the Northeastern region appeared to see-saw around the 50 mark for the Billings Index while the other regions generally exceeded the 50 index level. Based on size of firm, sole practitioners and firms of between 10 and 24 employees reported reduced billings in December compared to November. Only small firms of between 2 and 9 employees reported positive billings for the month of December.
Designers Remain Cautiously Optimistic
When asked what conditions presented the greatest challenges to their business, respondents most frequently cite cautious clients and uncertainty about the US economy. Designers continue to be optimistic, with more than two-thirds saying they expect business to improve in 2013.