Guarded Optimism to Propel Industry Forward into 2021
Billings for interior design firms increased for the sixth consecutive month in December. The ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) registered a score of 53.4 for the month, showcasing that the pace of billings accelerated from November (any score above 50 represents expansion and below 50 represents contraction). Billings continued their positive trajectory as reflected in the three-month moving average of 52.7. The inquiry index, an indicator of future work, surged 14.3 points to 64.2, the highest score since August 2019 (70.1). The three-month moving average of the new projects inquiry index recorded a score of 57.1. December’s survey results indicated that the business climate is favorable, and panelists appear to expect this sentiment to continue into the first half of 2021. The six-month outlook index has remained well above 50 mark for the past five months, posting a December score of 54.8.
The December upturn was not been consistent across the four regions of the country. Firms in the South (59.9) showed a continuation of healthy billings and firms in the Northeast (51.6) edged up modestly into expansionary territory. While firms from the Midwest (48.4) slipped in December back into contraction, billings in the West (49.8) nearly reached a neutral position.
ASID has been monitoring very closely the industry developments relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by asking panelists about their level of concern and its business impact. The average level of concern is 3.29 which is a decrease of November’s average of 3.48 (1- No concern/business as usual to 5- High concern/anxiety from disruption and unknown). Over half of the panelists (56%) believe that COVID-19 will have a negative impact upon next month's (i.e., January) upcoming billings. Regarding the outlook for 2021, panelists provided their sales predictions with nearly eight out of ten (78%) expressing that business will either be neutral or positive.