Hard Surface Report

Hard Surface Report

September 2023, from Hard-Surface Report

U.S. hard-surface imports in September 2023 continued to decline, with the $395.7 million in total value falling by 10% from August and 18.7% from the same time last year.

Quartz-surface imports continue to lag behind last year, with September’s volume falling by 25%. Marble, meanwhile, managed to increase in year-over-year volume — by a scant 0.6%, but it’s a positive. 

Hard-surface imports began declining rapidly in last year’s fourth quarter. October should show if the market is leveling … or will continue in a decline.

The General View: September marks the usual slowdown in general construction in the United States, and hard-surface imports slow down and demand decreases. This year follows the trend, but the $395.7 million in customs value is 10% behind August and down by 18.7% year-over year.

The Expected: Quartz Surfaces used to be the biggest hard-surface-import gainer every month; for this September, it’s one of the biggest losers from 2022 in value (-30.2%) and volume (-25%). Don’t attribute this to recent concerns about silicosis, however; the decline is part of an almost year-long dip due to a general slowdown and some import-tariff concerns.

The Unexpected: Just when marble appeared to be down for the count in August, it got off the canvas in September – sort of. Volume this year surpassed September 2022, but barely with a 0.6% clearance. This September’s value is down 7.3% from the previous year, due mainly to sector leader Italy ($21.7 million) dropping of 11.3%. Second-place Turkey, meanwhile, gained 13.5% in year-over-year value and 21.6% in volume.

The Strange: Granite continued its wobbly course through 2023. September marked another downturn, as import value fell 17.3% and volume dropped 18.6%. That drop in value moved granite ($55.4 million) to second place in natural stone, behind marble ($57 million).

Next Month: Through September, this year’s hard-surface imports remain well below 2022 levels. However, the market changed in last year’s fourth quarter as demand took a big dive due to a number of reasons. Year-over-year comparisons should begin to look better as 2023 winds down … hopefully.