By Christina Cheddar Berk, News Editor NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- The year of the Dragon is considered to be the luckiest of the Chinese lunar years, with many couples rushing to marry or have a child during this auspicious time. But the does the year also herald a home furnishing boom? Perhaps International Business Machines ( IBM) is forecasting a surge in demand for home furnishings in the second quarter of this year. Its forecast calls for in-store sales of home furnishings to rise nearly 8 % to $23.22 billion and online sales to surge 28.4 %. Combined, the home furnishings market should grow 16.6 % in the second quarter. Among the reasons cited is the effect of the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which began on Feb. 4.
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One factor is consumers are keeping items longer. Plus, with the average home size getting smaller and rental activity increasing, some consumers may have to downsize their décor. Look for retailers such as Bed, Bath & Beyond ( BBBY), as well as department stores such as Macy's ( M) to benefit from the trend, Puleri said. The increase is a pretty substantial one from where it's been in the recent past. "One of the things we've seen is that the category has taken a back seat to others," Squire said. Shoppers have been more frugal and cautious with their money, and they have often traded from one category to another, as they worked to stay within their budget and prioritize their spending. Now that consumers may be at the point to release this demand, there is an opportunity for retailers to use what they know about their customer to reach out to consumers that may be ready to buy, according to Squire. If the signs of life in the housing market pan out to be the start of a turnaround, all the better for the sector. --Written by Christina Cheddar Berk at CNBC.