-- Consumers are feeling the pinch of higher home energy costs --

Charleston, SC February 1, 2006 – The Furniture Buying Index is down six points to a reading of 78. Higher home energy bills are weighting on consumers minds as they struggle to pay off Christmas bills, and major purchases such as furniture have taken the biggest impact.

Britt Beemer, Chairman of America’s Research Group, said, “Furniture retailers saw strong sales New Year’s Day followed by a January of 2% to 4% declines compared to last January.” He continued, “While consumers felt good about furniture buying in late December, the Index has fallen six points due to consumers feeling the pinch of these higher home energy costs.”

Beemer added, “Consumer spending has driven the strong economic re-bound over the last three years, but that could be at risk. Many consumers acknowledge these high energy bills could not have come at a worse time because their credit card bills from Christmas gift buying are hitting them at the same time, and major purchases like furniture are the first expenses to be cut back.”

The Furniture Buying Index is compiled each month by America's Research Group from interviews with 5,000-8,000 consumers across the country. In a typical month, 80 percent of the consumers interviewed can name a specific furniture item they intend to buy. The Index's mark signifies what percent of the benchmark 80% actually have a particular item in mind.

Britt Beemer is chairman of America's Research Group, a full-service consumer behavior research company based in Charleston, SC. ARG provides research and strategic planning services to leading manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods across North America.

For more information call:
C. Britt Beemer

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