For many stone fabricators in the U.S., the past few years have been the roughest on record. Not only have they been struggling to withstand an economic recession that has lingered far longer than expected, but they are also facing continued competition from low-cost competitors. Despite all of this, they are generally optimistic that 2011 will be a year of recovery, and this recovery will continue over the long term. Moreover, they are planning to make investments - some of them major - to back up those beliefs.
These are the results of a survey conducted by the Market Research Department at BNP Media (Stone World’s parent company), and it polled fabricators across the U.S., including large and small firms as well as relatively new and well-established companies.
Speaking on the coming year, fabricators seemed to feel that the worst is well behind us. A total of 53% of respondents said the stone market will increase in 2011; 37.4% said it would stay the same; only 9.6% said there would be further declines. This is a fair bit more optimistic than last year, when only 45% expected growth and 15% expected further declines.
Among fabricators calling for growth this year, the majority (65.6%) said that increases would be greater than 6%. Moreover, approximately one out of six fabricators (14.6%) , predicted growth of 11% or more.
When asked why they were optimistic for 2011, fabricators pointed to a general economic recovery and activity in the residential remodeling sector. “Most homeowners are upgrading their homes instead of selling them, and this increases the market for stone remodeling,” stated one fabricator, expressing a sentiment repeated by many survey participants. Another respondent stated: “More people are starting to ease back into spending. Although hesitant, people are starting to spend money.”
A significant percentage of fabricators pointed to their logbooks as a reason for optimism. “There is more market activity,” stated one respondent. “Quote levels are growing, backlogs are growing, and general interest inquiries are growing.” Similar statements were made by a number of other fabricators.
Some fabricators said that customers are resuming projects that were put on hold due to the recession. “Commercial and residential lending standards are thawing, and that will allow for construction to resume on numerous projects that were put on hold as well as for new projects to begin,” stated one respondent.
For this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design decorative porcelain and marble tile modernize an outdated living space in New York. We also see how Italian Porcelain tile contributes to a multi-purpose residential building. Finally we feature our Mosaic and decorative tile roundup.