By Nathan Weber
NEW YORK–Executive confidence among retailers and manufacturers of home furnishings inched up in the second quarter, but remained well below an optimistic level.
The HFNdex, a proprietary measure based on a poll of senior executives in the industry, reached 42.4 during the quarter, up from a revised reading of 41.3.
The rise, however, did little to dispel a generally pessimistic outlook, as any reading below 50 reflects a preponderance of negative over positive outlooks.
Asked how they viewed present economic conditions versus those of six months ago, more than two-thirds of respondents said they were worse; 25 percent noted that they were “substantially” worse.
Although only one-third said they expected conditions in the next six months to worsen even further, if moderately, half expected neither improvement nor decline.
Commenting on the prospects for their own firms, a question that usually generates a more positive outlook, nearly 42 percent are looking forward to moderate growth. But the same proportion expects a decline—mostly moderate. The remainder expect profits to stay flat.