May 2020: Overview

The General View: Covid-19 makes its mark on U.S. imports, as pre-lockdown shipments clear the ports-of-entry. May is the first month that represents true supply-and-demand in the time of coronavirus. Numbers are likely to remain low until business picks up when the United States reopens (and no guesses on when that will happen). The Expected: All major sector showed overall decreases in volume or value of imports. Travertine remains at a low point in total shipments, although Turkey made a big gain in May from April numbers. The Unexpected: Two sectors found surprising new leaders in shipment value: Vietnam with $12.9 million of quartz slabs, and Turkey’s $8.8 million of marble dethroning perpetual leader Italy. And, while May’s total U.S. hard-surface imports of $232.8 million represented a near-40% year-to-year decline, shipments didn’t fall by the 70% level that led most industry guesses for the month. The Strange: Slate is the lone sector to show improvement from April, with May's $2.2 million marking a 26.1% rise. That's due mainly to China doubling its April totals in May ... although this May's $1.2 million is barely more than half of what the country shipped a year ago. Next Month: Watch Vietnam, where increases went against the global tide in May. It could be tough to keep up the very positive numbers in both quartz slabs and porcelain tiles.


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