April 2021: Overview

The General View: Is the flow getting slower on U.S. hard-surface imports? Previous month-to-month growth rates are reversing into declines for key sectors such as quartz slab and granite, while nothing seems to be stopping the climb for marble and porcelain. The Expected: Nearly every sector this April showed a strong growth of 30% to 90%-plus in import values from the same time last year. That’s not surprising, as shipments went into the tank in 2020’s second quarter at the height of the pandemic slowdown. The only exception, at a “low” 8.5% growth, was granite. The Unexpected: Quartz-slab imports hit the brakes in April, with month-to-month values falling 5% and volume barely creeping to a 0.6% gain. India and Turkey showed good growth, but major slowing came from Canada and Israel. The Strange: The Other Stone sector posted incredible month-to-month growth in March … and then turned around with a decline in April, due mainly to India’s 21.5% drop in shipments. Meanwhile, Porcelain moved up as Italy put some extra fire to the kilns and boosted shipments from March to April by 39.5% (and customs value by 41.8%). Next Month: Enough wiggle room remains for April’s U.S. hard-surface imports to either be an anomaly or the initial indicators of a worldwide shipping snarl-up with a long, excruciating untangling. May data will give a clearer picture and possibly show the bottlenecks and the clear sailing.


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