According to Confindustria Ceramica, the Italian tile industry has enjoyed a strong recovery up to the end of Q1 2021. Sales were in excess of pre-pandemic levels. The recovery began in the second half of last year, significantly mitigating the slump in sales experienced during the lockdown period.
During 2020 domestic tile production had been down 14%, with total sales down 3.9% in both volume and value, and investment almost halved. But in Q1 2021, total market turnover grew by 9%, compared to the same period in 2020. This was driven by a strong recovery in both sales within Italy (+18.9%) and export sales (+7.2%). This in fact equated to a 7% increase in sales, compared to pre-pandemic level in Q1 2019.
Confindustria believes that the increasing sales result from a growing focus on housing all over the world, combined with the healthiness, sustainability and durability of ceramics.
However a number of negative factors were also identified – in the eight months between September 2020 and May 2021, the cost of packaging board grew by 64%, packaging plastics by 156% and pallets by 68%. As for sea freight rates, the cost of containers from Europe to the US East Coast rose from $1,576 in October 2020 to $3,359 in May 2021, a 113% increase that is having a severe impact on an industry that generates 26% of its sales overseas.
Despite these problems, Confindustria draws attention to the inherent dynamism of the sector and the fact that it will in part be returning to the Bologna exhibition centre when Cersaie reopens on 27 September.