US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Surging Demand Spurs Construction of New OSB Mill

While there’s been a lot of talk about the nationwide shortage of lumber – which has caused prices to rise and led to delays at numerous construction sites across the US – that is not the only construction material that’s in short supply. Construction professionals across the country face supply issues with a number of other construction materials, too, among them oriented strand board, or OSB. OSB is an engineered wood product used in a wide range of construction applications, key among them:

  • roof, floor and wall trusses
  • siding
  • wall sheathing
  • sub- and finish flooring
  • pack

Demand for OSB has been elevated over the past year due to high levels of new housing construction (where OSB is used extensively) and homeowner interest in home remodeling, which has boosted used of the material as homeowners add bathrooms, expand kitchens, and convent old spaces into home gyms and offices.

Thus, the announcement by Huber Engineered Woods – a leading OSB supplier – that it would be erecting a new OSB plant was welcome news to the construction industry. The new site will take advantage of its proximity to the extensive forest stocks in the Upper Midwest to obtain raw materials for OSB that can be used in construction projects across the region and in the US as a whole. While the facility is not expected to begin operations until 2024, demand for new housing and home improvement projects is anticipated to remain strong going forward.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly such studies as Flooring Wood Panels and Oriented Strand Board, as well other studies in the Construction and Building Products and Consumer Goods areas. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Shortage of Vinyl Resins Affecting Construction & Medical Goods Industries

Amidst all the talk of product shortages and supply chain issues, there’s another factor that plays a key role here: that of the availability of the raw materials needed to make finished goods. No matter how the strong the demand for a particular product, firms are helpless to meet surging demand for goods without key raw materials. Outside of lumber and similar products, lack of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins is also causing havoc in a number of industries.

As this article indicates, strong demand for PVC had already affected the supply chain in 2020, and the winter storms that cut across Texas early in 2021 caused more difficulties. Plants that make PVC resins – as well as the refineries that make the feedstocks needed to produce to these resins – were forced to shut down due to a lack of electricity. In the meantime, demand for products made from PVC has continued to climb. For instance:

  • High levels of new home construction have boosted demand for PVC windows and doors, pipe, vinyl siding, and other building and construction products.
  • Strong shipments of medical goods (such as PPE) have promoted demand for vinyl films – often  specified because of their sterile properties.
  • Continuing need for ventilators and other related medical equipment has boosted use of PVC tubing.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products as well as packaging-related topics such as Pouches, Converted Flexible Packaging, Medical Device Packaging, and Global Disposable Medical Supplies. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Acquisition Shows Effect of High Lumber Prices on Pallet Industry

While there have been a number of articles about the effect of the lumber shortages on the housing market, much less has been said about how the national lumber shortage has affected other industries. For instance, a leading end use for lumber in the US is pallets. Indeed, with more than 90% of pallets in the US made from hardwood and softwood lumber, the shortage of lumber has severely affected the pallet industry. Many sawmills have been prioritizing shipments to home builders and big-box retailers – who have more purchasing power – leading many pallet producers and retailers facing critical shortages of pallet cants and other lumber components needed to fix and repair pallets. Not only can firms produce fewer new pallets, but firms’ ability to repair damaged pallets has also been affected by the lumber shortage – companies unable to obtain replacement cants are faced with the difficult choice of cannibalizing one pallet to repair several others.

A recent acquisition announcement shows how one firm in coping with the shortage of lumber. Kamps – one of the nation’s leading pallet repair and management firms – announced that it would purchase Buckeye Diamond Logistics, a firm that also provides pallet repair and management services. The acquisition:

  • expands Kamps’ national pallet stock – a key consideration when firms are looking to lease as many pallets as possible to ensure timely shipment of their goods
  • boosts the company’s network of pallet repair and maintenance facilities
  • increases Kamps’ inventory of trailers used to haul pallets, making it better able to quickly shift pallets to a customer experiencing a temporary shortage
  • adds to Kamps’ purchasing power – some sawmills will only sell to firms willing to buy large quantities of lumber

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Pallets and Global Pallets. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: Shortages Propel a New Idea in Paint

There has been some amount of paint shortage over the past year…not only from the supply end from outbreaks slowing production that we’ve come to expect and even build into assumptions in recent months, but also the kinks from the February winter storm in Texas that slowed production of key supplies. Additionally, the boom in pandemic-era home renovations – and painting has been a popular DIY activity – raised demand at the same time.

What has been one of the big losses? Paint sample cans. Companies would rather be able to supply enough for customers’ projects, but classic paint chips are not enough for many customers and particular interior designers to select the right color.

The solution was the rapid adoption of what had been a niche option: peel-and-stick paint samples. In some locations, quart sample options were either not available or customers were at least being actively directed toward the peel-and-stick option as most major paint suppliers had arrangements with Samplize. While people tend to have a preference for the way they’ve always done things, these peel-and-stick options had benefits too:

  • Ecofriendly: less waste as customers receive a 12”x12” swatch rather than a whole small can
  • Convenient: they are repositionable (so you can test it in more than one place/no wall damage) and easy to use (no paint mess/clean up, already in 2 coats without waiting to dry) 

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products and Consumer Goods areas, particularly titles such as Global Architectural Paint and Global Paint & Coatings. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Chemicals      Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Packaging      Plastics & Other Polymers    

Despite Slight Decline, Retail Sales Outlook for Building Materials Retails Remains Strong

The release of the May retail sales report by the US Department of Commerce on June 15 showed that the US market for building materials and construction products remained strong during the month. Retail sales by building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers declined slightly from their level in April. Some of the possible causes of this decline can include:

  • high prices for lumber and other building materials (such as copper wire and plastic products), which caused some consumers to delay work until prices became more affordable
  • shortages of key materials due to supply chain issues – disruptions in one phase of a project can delay others, and with high prices, builders and contractors may hold off on product purchases until materials are actually needed
  • shifts in consumer spending – with many states and localities “reopening” and lifting restrictions on dining out and other forms of entertainment, many consumers (especially those who have already invested in their homes) might have opted to spend on other things

However, retail sales by building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers remained strong. Indeed, compared to this time in 2020, sales in 2021 were more than 20% higher. Most building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers remain confident in the strength of their industry due to such factors as:

  • continuing high levels of new home construction and homeowner interest in home renovation and repair projects, boosting demand for building materials
  • the advent of summer, which means longer days with better weather that allow for more time for construction projects
  • summer is a traditional buying period for both lawn and garden supplies and equipment, as well as the products (pool supplies, outdoor toys) frequently sold at home improvement and garden centers
  • the end of school means more teenagers will be available to work landscaping jobs – offering time-pressed contractors a way to catch up with their backlogs of work

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19