US ceramic tile consumption slows

US ceramic tile consumption slows

13/03/2019 from Ceramic World Web Newsletter

US tile consumption grew just 1.2% in 2018 to about 288 million sq.m. Domestic sales of US tile dropped to 84 million sq.m, while imports rose to 205 million sq.m (+5%), mainly from China, Spain and Brazil.

While the US economy continues to enjoy an excellent state of health, the US ceramic tile market is struggling to maintain growth. Tile consumption rose by just 1.2% last year to an estimated 288 million sq.m (around 4 million sq.m more than in 2017), well below the levels of growth of the last eight years. This is due partly to the slowdown in the real estate and building renovation sector and partly to the growth of LVT, which is capturing market share from ceramic tile. At the end of 2017, tile accounted for 14.3% of the US floorings market in value compared to the 9.3% of LVT, which however is advancing at a rate of around one and a half percentage points a year.

In this context, competition in the ceramic tile market is becoming tougher for all competitors. The US industry bore the brunt of the slowdown last year. Domestic sales of US tile dropped by 5 million sq.m (down 5.6% from 89.4 to 84.4 million sq.m). This marks the first year-over-year decline in domestic shipments since 2009, reducing the market share of local products to 29.3% of total US tile consumption.

On the other side, imports increased from 195 million sq.m in 2017 to 205 million sq.m in 2018 (year-end figure), a result, however, which is attributable to just three countries: China, which has extended its leadership with a 6.5% increase in exports to the USA compared to 2017; Spain, which has seen 25.8% growth from 23 to 29 million sq.m despite a 13% fall in average price (CIF&Duty) in the space of two years; and Brazil, which exported 14.7 million sq.m to the USA (4 million sq.m or 37.7% more than in 2017).

The other big exporters are having a tougher time. Mexico has continued to see a decline in sales (4.6% down on 2017 to 35.2 million sq.m), and while Italy remains the top exporter in terms of value it lost 3.6% in volume to 34 million sq.m. Similar falls in exports were experienced by Turkey (11.9 million sq.m, -2.4%), Peru (5.4 million sq.m, -12.5%) and Colombia (1.5 million sq.m, -20.8%).

Although volumes are still low, India performed strongly in 2018 with 123% growth in exports to the USA to reach 1.6 million sq.m.