Statistics and markets

USA: tile sales slow while construction booms

17/12/2020

In the first nine months of 2020 US tile consumption dropped 11.6%, US production lost just 1.5% while imports fell by 15,8%

Sales of ceramic tile in the United States have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), consumption dropped 11.6% in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 to reach 189.2 million sqm.

Imports accounted for the bulk of these losses while the US tile industry remained stable.

US shipments to the end of September totalled 63 million sqm, of which 2.2 million sqm was exported (+4.4%), mainly to Canada and Mexico. Total US shipment to the domestic market amounted to 60.8 million sqm, just 1.5% down on the first nine months of 2019, although average selling price dropped from $16.6 to $16 per sqm.

US tile consequently regained its share of the domestic market, accounting for 32.1% of total consumption in volume and 40.8% in value.

Imports fell by 15.8% in the first nine months of the year to a total volume of 128.4 million sqm, 67.9% of US consumption compared to 70.6% a year earlier.

The breakdown of the major exporter countries to the US market has changed completely compared to a year ago following China’s exit from the market.

Spain maintained its 2019 growth trend with a further 9.6% increase in imports (26.5 million sqm to the end of September), bringing its share of total imports to 20.7% and gaining the top spot formerly held by China. Next came Mexico, which saw a further contraction (22.6 million sqm, -15.5% on 2019), and Italy (22 million sqm, -4.5%). As in 2019, both Turkey (+55.4%) and Brazil (+10.4%) made strong gains to become respectively the 4th and 5th largest exporters to the US.

However, Italy remains the biggest tile exporter to the US in terms of value, with 9-month sales of $458 million (including CIF&Duty), corresponding to 32.3% of total imports in value terms, and an average price of $20.77/sqm. This compares with the $12.37/sqm of Spain, the second largest exporter by value.

  • Recovery in the building sector

Following the sharp contraction during the first few months of the pandemic, construction activity in the US began to rebound in May and June, returning to pre-Covid levels and surpassing 2019 figures.

In greater detail, the monthly trend in the number of housing starts shows that 2020 had got off to a good start with a sharp increase in January and February compared to the 1.29 million housing units reached at the end of 2019. The next three months were decidedly sluggish, followed by a gradual recovery from June onwards. This trend was further consolidated during the period July to September, which closed at 1.4 million housing starts.

New single family home sales saw strong growth and from May onwards outperformed the already record levels of 2019 (683,000 units), with peaks in July and August.

The good health of the US construction industry is also demonstrated by the figures for total US construction spending, which even in May – the month of the biggest decline – was still above 2019 levels and rose to $1,414 billion in September.

 

U.S. ceramic tile industry & market (millions of sq.m)

Year

U.S. Shipments / Produzione

Imports

Exports

U.S. Consumption / Consumo

% var. in Consumption / Var.% consumo

Jan-Sept 2020

63.0

128.4

2.2

189.2

-11,6%

2019

83.2

193.0

3.0

273.2

-5.4%

2018

87.4

204.1

2.8

288.7

1.5%

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