Construction Wire & Cable

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This study analyzes US supply of and demand for construction insulated wire and cable products. Major product segments covered are:

  • building wire and cable
    • thermoplastic insulated
    • nonmetallic and underground
    • thermoset insulated
    • metallic armored
    • service entrance
    • other building wire and cable (e.g., low-voltage doorbell wire)
  • telephone wire and cable
  • electronic wire and cable, including coaxial cable and multiconductor wire and cable
  • power wire and cable
  • fiber optic cable (single-mode and multimode)

Excluded from the scope of the study are bare wire and other types of noninsulated wire products, as well as complete wiring harnesses and wiring sets (although separately sold wire utilized in such products is included).

Historical and forecast sales are also provided for major construction end use markets including:

  • residential building
  • commercial building
  • nonbuilding

Historical data (2010, 2015, and 2020) and forecasts for 2025 and 2030 are provided in millions of dollars for demand, shipments, and net exports.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Construction Wire & Cable

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a modest reduction in construction wire and cable sales in 2020, with demand falling by less than 1.0%. While the economic impacts of the pandemic significantly affected construction markets, the open-air nature of construction sites meant that direct disruption from social distancing efforts was limited.

Residential construction grew in 2020, and insulated wire and cable sales in this market posted solid gains. In particular, single-family housing construction surged, with new conventional housing starts rising at a double-digit pace; however, this was offset to an extent by a decline in multifamily housing starts.

Market performance in the commercial segment was considerably worse, with wire and cable sales falling by 4.8% in 2020. The decline in travel caused an especially sharp decline in construction of new lodging facilities, and a challenging environment for the education industry led to a weak performance in that segment as well. Construction of office buildings also fell as the shift to remote work decreased demand for office space.

Strength in the residential construction market continued into 2021, although this is expected to represent the peak of the current construction boom, and market performance will be weaker from 2022 to 2025. The shift toward single-family over multifamily housing construction is expected to continue over the near term.

The commercial construction market for wire and cable continues to face a challenging environment, and sales gains in 2021 are expected to be modest. The effects of the pandemic continued to hamper construction in the first half of 2021, although a rebound may be possible in the second half of the year. However, the office and retail segments continue to face challenges that may pose obstacles to recovery through 2025.

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Demand by Product

Demand for insulated wire and cable in the construction market is forecast to rise 3.1% per year to $7.3 billion in 2025 as building construction activity rises. Building wire and cable products will continue to account for the vast majority of sales, reflecting the universal need for these products. Between 2020 and 2025, building wire and cable is projected to account for 86% of the total increase in wire and cable demand in the construction market.

Telephone wire has historically also been used in building construction applications as a connector to the communication service provider’s network. Due to competition from more advanced technologies such as coaxial and fiber optic networks, and the growing preference for cell phones over landlines in many applications, telephone wire has declined somewhat in importance. However, telephone wire continues to be regularly installed in new buildings due to its low cost and variety of applications.

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Pricing Trends

Insulated wire and cable products do not face a significant amount of competition from substitutes in most applications. Pricing competition arises from intra-industry, foreign, and integrated manufacturers.

Average wire and cable prices vary widely. Generally speaking, wire and cable products are priced according to such variables as:

  • wire gauge (thickness or diameter)
  • conductor material
  • number of conductors
  • insulation material
  • amount of insulation required (including jacketing and sheathing)
  • length

Through 2025, average insulated wire and cable prices are expected to increase less than 1.0% per year. Rising raw materials costs will be the largest driver of price growth, with copper price trends particularly important. However, ongoing competition from foreign suppliers will continue to produce downward pressure on prices and limit the pace of growth.

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Demand by Market

Insulated wire and cable is used in residential and commercial buildings and in nonbuilding applications such streetlights and other electrical lighting equipment.

Demand for insulated wire and cable for the construction market is forecast to rise 3.1% yearly through 2025 to $7.3 billion. Residential buildings are projected to account for 55% of demand growth over that span, while commercial building applications will account for 42%. The principal uses for wire and cable in building construction settings are running power to outlet boxes and lighting fixtures, and connecting the structure to the power distribution system.

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