July 2021: Overview

The General View: The total customs value for U.S. hard-surface imports came tantalizingly close to the half-billion-dollar mark for July, with a finish at $493.6 million. At this pace, 2021 will finish at an all-time high. The Expected: Every sector showed an increase from last July in volume and value of shipments to the United States from July 2020. That’s not surprising, since import activity didn’t increase sharply until mid-summer last year. And only two sectors showed a decrease in value from June 2021. Travertine is one …. The Unexpected: … but hard-surfaces’ biggest sector, quartz slab, is the other, with a 4.6% month-to-month decline this July. Quartz slab also dropped 5.3% in square-foot volume from June 2021. Four of the top five exporters to the United States showed a month-to-month drop in July, ranging from Malaysia’s slight 1.2% decline to Vietnam’s hefty 24.7% tumble. India, the leader in quartz-slab volume, posted an 8.5% increase in July to 4.5 million ft². The Strange: Turkey opened the tap in shipping calcareous stone to the United States in July, with month-to-month growth in marble, travertine and other calcareous sectors. One of the biggest bump-ups came with marble, with the 47,207 metric tons in July representing a 36.6% growth from this June, and a near-doubling 90.2% from July 2020. Next Month: Is the July softness in quartz-slab imports the first indication of a cooldown in the U.S. hard-surface market. Don’t be too quick to draw a conclusion, as there’s been some temporary 2021 up-and-down activity already in the sector. But keep an eye on what happens in August.