March 2021: Overview
The General View: Nearly all indicators in every sector point to a record year for hard surfaces. However, we’re a long way from back-to-normal economic conditions. A caveat: Remember that things looked good through last March, too. The Expected: The quartz-surface sector continued the ascension to a stratum of its own. The $146.3 million of the material in March accounted for more than a third (36.9%) of all U.S. imports of hard surfaces that month. The Unexpected: Quartz surfaces are often accused of being the killer of granite use in the United States, but March import data continues to indicate a healthy growth in value – up 30% from March 2020 – for the longtime hard-surfaces favorite. And, the volume of 115,722 metric tons is the best March total since 2015. The Strange: The Other Stone sector collects natural stone that doesn’t fit other import classifications with esoteric items such as porphyry and soapstone. It also includes quartzite, which figures heavily into the sector’s stunning growth this year. A strong March contributed to Other Stone’s first-quarter value of $107.1 million … a 47.3% leap from the first three months of 2020. Next Month: COVID-19 data made “lagging indicator” a well-understood term, and the 45- to 60-day interval of overseas shipping can delay the effect of changes in the import supply chain. Somewhere, on the off-shore horizon, looms the specter of worldwide container shortages and diesel-fuel increases. The shadow – if any – it may cast on the U.S. hard surfaces delivery may be apparent with April’s data.
A podcast of hard-surface industry news updated every second and fourth Wednesday.