Containers of furniture imported through U.S. ports increased significantly year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013, rising 7.6 percent or 37,722 20-foot-equivalent units, the sixth consecutive quarterly year-over-year increase. Imports totaled 532,943 TEUs, compared with 495,222 TEUs in the first quarter of 2012.
In the first quarter of 2013, imports inched up from the previous quarter by 0.1 percent, according to preliminary data from PIERS, a JOC sister company.
Furniture imports continued to grow following a strong 2012. The second quarter of 2012 recorded the highest volume, 555,975 TEUs, which was also the highest TEU count since the second quarter of 2007. The fourth quarter saw the largest year-over-year growth in 2012, 8.2 percent.
In the May report of JOC Insights, JOC economist Mario Moreno explains the significant influence of the housing market recovery on containerized imports of furniture. “Shippers, ports, carriers must watch home sales closely because home sales boost consumption of top import good by volume: furniture,” Moreno said. “There exists a strong positive correlation between existing home sales and US furniture imports one quarter later of 68 percent.”
Mainland China, not including Hong Kong, held 71.5 percent of the U.S. import market in the first quarter of 2013; its share was up almost half of a percentage point year-over-year. Other top countries of origin for U.S. furniture imports in the first quarter were Vietnam, with a 9.5 percent share, up one-tenth of a percentage point; Malaysia, 3.5 percent, down 0.3 percentage points; and Indonesia, 3 percent, up 0.3 percentage points. Furniture imports from Indonesia also jumped 20 percent in volume year-over-year in the first quarter.
Import volume from Italy climbed as well this quarter, by 14 percent, keeping it as the sixth-largest supplier of U.S. furniture imports. Imports from Poland fell 10 percent this quarter over first quarter 2012, but the country remained the seventh-largest U.S. supplier.