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US Economy From Sofa View: Fragile, Improving

White and Thompson said one unsettling thing is what happens to taxes and health insurance costs after next month's elections.

"This current atmosphere that we have throughout the country is not a small-business-friendly atmosphere. Like it or not, all of my customers are small-businesspeople. We are a small business," White said.

Robert Deese, another Lancer vice president, said retail store owners shopping the market have repeatedly told him they're delaying purchases until they get more certainty. Lancer is based in Star, about 50 miles south of High Point.

"They've got a little potential to buy, but they're really just not willing to commit until they feel a fraction more secure, either based on the election or seeing more positive figures come out," Deese said.

Once the election is out of the way, next year "should be the best year for furniture sales since 2007" if credit availability, job creation, home sales and buyer optimism continue to improve, furniture analyst Jerry Epperson said in a recent note. If the stock market and auto industry are a guide, the U.S. could have a dramatic economic recovery, he said.

The lack of household mobility that's depressed both housing and furnishings sales over the last four years could be about to change, Epperson wrote.

"Doubt it? Ask the almost 30 million adults now living at home with their parents. They want out," he said.

___

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

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Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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