Sales of casual and outdoor furniture increased during the recession as people cut back on vacations and invested in home improvement, says Michael Hudgens, CIT Group's Southeast manager of trade finance. The segment has been growing lately for other reasons. "In 2012, the furniture industry grew almost double the rate of the overall economy," Hudgens said. "We think that was due to pent-up demand. Also, as the housing market improves, the furniture business will continue to see increased sales." Read more.