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Furniture sales growth strongest since 2000

Stephanie Yeung and Charlie Emrich shop for furniture in San Francisco, Calif. A rise in furniture sales could mean a better outlook for the economy at large.

David Brancaccio: I could share with you news of the widening current account deficit but instead how about furniture as indicator of the economy? Furniture sales last month were 8.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

Anna-Louise Jackson of Bloomberg News tracked that one down. Good morning, Anna.

Anna-Louise Jackson: Good morning, how are you?

Brancaccio: Good. What can the sale of furniture tell us about the broader economy?

Jackson: Sure. Well, sale of furniture is up, and that's an indication that people are a little bit more confident in the jobs outlook, and also it's an indication that there's some housing turnover.

Brancaccio: Yeah, the basic idea here, right, is that you don't really buy furniture unless maybe you've got a new place to live? And during the property downturn -- from which we are really yet to emerge -- we're not really buying much furniture.

Jackson: It's a big expense, and so, unless you really need a new couch or new bed or something, you might put off that purchase as long as possible until you're feeling a little bit better about the money in your bank.

Brancaccio: So, is it up a lot?

Jackson: Well, in February, furniture sales grew 8.3 percent, which was the second largest increase since 2000. And January was the biggest increase.

Brancaccio: What about pent up demand here? You can probably go a long time without buying a new sofa.

Jackson: Yes, you definitely could, and that's definitely another driver. And some of the companies are actually reporting that's helping boost their sales. People are just finally fed up with having this old couch, and so they're coming back to get a new one.

Brancaccio: Yeah, there's only so many years that you can endure the cat pulling the stuffing out of that thing before you finally have to get a bit of new furniture.

Jackson: Right.

Brancaccio: All right, Anna-Louise Jackson, reporter for Bloomberg News. Thank you very much.

Jackson: You're welcome.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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