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ASID interior design indices post positive first quarter

The American Society of Interior Designers reported that its Interior Design Billings Index for the first quarter of 2013 ended on a high note, jumping six points to 61 from the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2012. Inquiries also rebounded, rising to 64.7 from 63.3 in February and 64.2 in January.

Performance averages across sectors were as follows: residential 53.5, commercial 49, institutional 44.9. The averages for the sectors in the fourth quarter of 2012 were 51, 47.5 and 46.2, respectively.

According to the index, all areas of the country reported gains in March, led by the Midwest, which posted an index score of 61.7, up over 10 points from February. Business performance in the West continued to improve after several months of weak postings, up over seven points from February to reach 59.5. The South continued to improve gradually, posting a more modest gain of 2.8 points, at 63.7, compared to 60.9 in February. The Northeast sustained another month of positive performance, at 56.5, making up for a decline in February, when it dipped to 51.7.

Smaller firms reported improved performance in March while mid-size and large firms experienced a decline in billings, perhaps due to the slowdown in some commercial and institutional sectors according to the ASID report.

In March, the ASID Business Outlook score was 74, the same as in February but up from the prior quarter's index of 66.7. When asked about recent hiring, 11% of respondents hired at least one new employee in the past three months, and 10% indicated they would hire in the next three months.

Despite some gains in consumer confidence and employment figures, designers by and large remain cautious and concerned about their prospects for 2013. At present, according to the report, opportunities appear to be most plentiful for residential designers, buoyed by the resurgence in the housing market.

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