The ASID Interior Design Billings Index declined in the fourth quarter of 2012 after 14 consecutive months of growth. The December index of 47.2 indicates a contraction in sales from November, which reached 58.9. But it’s not all bad news for the industry: an inquiry index of 54.4 in December points to expected growth in 2013.
The drop between the last two months of 2012 may be more of a reflection of seasonal adjustment rather than a slowdown of quarterly activity. “Looking back over the last three years, the Billings Index has always declined in December relative to November,” says 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.”
The office and hospitality sectors experienced increased billings in October and November of 2012, but in December, the entertainment and retail markets reported downturns. Earlier in the year, institutional billings indicated a healthy standing. Recent monthly scores of below 50, however, imply that revenues have slipped in government, education, and healthcare. Billings also were down across all regions of the U.S.
Designers queried for the billings index cited client caution and economic uncertainty as the greatest challenges to their business. Despite the difficulties, respondents express optimism—more than two-thirds expect business to improve in 2013.