Compiled ByJill Jusko Pent-up consumer demand and changing consumer behavior will help the furniture industry rebound rapidly from a dismal 2001, says the American Furniture Manufacturers Assn. (AFMA). In its newly revised forecast, the AFMA forecasts a 7.2% gain in wholesale furniture shipments for 2002, following an expected drop in shipments of 12.8% this year. In 2002 shipments are expected to reach $23.904 billion, compared with a projected $22.29 billion total in 2001. Consumers' pent-up demand for furniture will be a major contributor to the rebound, the AFMA says. "The housing market was extremely strong until Sept. 11, yet furniture sales did not keep pace," notes Joseph P. Logan, AFMA vice president of financial services. "That means there are many new houses that have not yet been furnished." Additionally, the events of Sept. 11 have more people traveling less and focusing increased attention on their homes. "Many [consumers] will want to purchase new home furnishings to make their homes even more inviting, comfortable and functional for spending time with family and friends," predicts Jackie Hirschhaut, an AFMA vice president. "It's a trend we are calling 'comfort-zoning.'" Based in High Point, N.C., the AFMA represents manufacturers of more than 75% of U.S. furniture shipments.