Orders for home furnishings dropped 1 percent in March to $2.08 billion compared with a year ago, according to a monthly report released Thursday by Smith Leonard PLLC, a financial services company based in High Point.

Orders were up 4.8 percent from $1.99 billion in February.

By comparison, retail furniture sales in April were up 3.9 percent from a year ago at $8.18 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Sales essentially were unchanged compared with March.

About 60 percent of survey participants reported an increase in orders compared with March 2012.

Ken Smith, Smith Leonard's director of furniture services, said orders should be up year-over-year in April and May because of “what appeared to be a really good High Point Market for most.”

He said the industry is ripe to benefit from higher sales of existing homes, continued low mortgage rates and the stock market rising at a record pace.

“It has been quite a long time since so many things were so favorable to the industry,” Smith said. “Hopefully Memorial Day sales were good and summer sales continue.”

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