Will Your Business Mirror Harvard's Predictions?

Christina Lewellen
October 26, 2011

Last week, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released the results of its Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) study that indicates the home improvement market will falter in the early part of next year. The researchers expect the fourth quarter of 2011 will end up with home improvement spending at a pace of about $111 billion per year year.  Consumers will then pause a bit in the first quarter of 2012, with that figure slipping down to about $105 billion, before rebounding somewhat in the second quarter of next year.

“After pulling through the worst of the downturn in home improvement spending, we appear to be entering another period of softening,” says Eric Belsky, managing director of the center. “The ups and downs in the economy are being reflected in home improvement activity.”

Are these fits and starts reflected in your business as well? Aside from the seasonality of the industry, are you preparing for these fluctuating spending trends when considering your books for the rest of this year and the first part of next year?

I’d like to hear how your business is remaining agile and flexible in order to absorb these spending ups and downs. Please take a moment to vote in our Talk poll for the week, and then send me an email or post a comment to share your experiences.

Survey Results as of 11/1/2011 :


Compared to the Harvard forecast, we expect our business to:

Be about the same...down early in 2012 and then back up




Struggle more...down but without much of a rebound




Outperform...stay up or have a better bounce-back




Though more than 40 percent of participants this week fall in line with Harvard's projections for 2012, the nature of the poll exposes the continued state of uncertaintly present in today's housing market, and in the economy in general.

The 60 percent who beg to differ with the Joint Center for Housing Studies are mixed in a fairly even split down the middle... some are more optimistic, anticipating that their businesses are likely to outperform the projections, while others anticipate a rougher road, worrying that business may be worse than what Harvard calls for.

As we begin to gather information about anticipated trends and business activity levels for 2012 in the window and door industry, I'll keep the proverbial door open to your thoughts and emails. Please touch base with me and share what you anticipate 2012 will have in store for your company.

Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at clewellen@glass.org.