June 2020: Overview
The General View: One dip or two? The second month of COVID-19-affected hard-surface imports showed results all over the map, as shipments/values either took a big plunge or came back with a sharp rebound. It’ll take a few months to see if the bounce-backs are a sustaining trend or yet another false positive in the pandemic.
The Expected: The June numbers often tracked a country’s overall policy on closing down social interaction. India’s total lockdown, for example, led to acute declines in quarried materials (but not necessarily for manufactured goods such as quartz surfaces and porcelain). Meanwhile, Vietnam’s May boom in quartz slabs and porcelain took an expected step back in June, although the country’s granite shipments increased.
The Unexpected: in one word: Porcelain. Spain, Turkey, Brazil, India and – to a lesser extent -- Italy led a major comeback, with the volume of U.S. imports increasing by an astounding 50% from May to June. Spain’s 83.5% one-month leap will be a hard act to follow, however.
The Strange: Granite import numbers would look very bad without an unlikely ally; even with Section 301 tariffs of 25%, China posted large gains in volume and value for the sector. The often-turbulent Other Calcareous sector managed to buck the overall downward trend, with near-30% gains from May fueled by Canada and Italy.
Next Month: The rate of quartz-surface imports may be the bellwether for the industry. Will July be a turnaround month for the sector?
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