A Desk at Home

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Now that more Americans are spending at least part of their workdays at home, they are faced with the problem of where to put their computers, printers, papers, and other supplies of the modern office.

Their need for a manageable home workspace has led to a flurry of activity in home-office furniture, a market that saw sales grow 10 percent in 1996, reaching $1.2 billion, according to Packaged Facts. The desire for better materials, function, ergonomics, style, and design, and to upgrade outdated furniture, has contributed to the segment's rapid growth. While the total office furniture market is expected to grow by only 4 to 5 percent annually over the next few years, Packaged Facts predicts that the home-office furnishing market will grow by 10 percent annually.

Within the sphere of home-office furniture, the leading segment is ready-to-assemble (RTA) products--pieces the consumer puts together at home. These items accounted for 56 percent, or $650 million, in manufacturers' shipments in 1996--a dramatic increase from 1992, when the RTA market accounted for only 37 percent of manufacturers' shipments.

A rosy future is predicted for the RTA segment because of two important lifestyle trends. First, there are optimistic projections for continued growth in personal computer ownership. Currently, 40 percent of U.S. households have a computer, a figure that is expected to increase to 53 percent by the year 2001. Many households actually have more than one computer--the current average is 1.2 per household, and that figure is expected to increase to 2.3 by the end of the decade.

The second trend driving the expansion of the RTA market is the increasing number of home-office workers, including self-employed, those finishing work at home after working at the office, and telecommuters. Taken together, the group of people who work at home comprises 60 million workers.

For more information, contact Packaged Facts, 625 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011; telephone (212) 807-2637.

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