4 Market Trends to Watch in Fenestration
If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we can't possibly know what the future holds and trying to predict what the new year will bring seems like an exercise in futility. Still, we can hope for some normalcy in 2021, so I put together some thoughts on a few market trends I feel could be in store for the window and door industry this year.
1. LEVEL AND STEADY SALES
Based on customer feedback, I feel that the industry as a whole will stay pretty steady for the year. Many manufacturers are still trying to catch up from the unexpected home renovation boom of 2020. Who knew that sales would explode during a pandemic?
So, we're not seeing the usual slowdown that typically happens during the winter months. And, while I believe that homeowners will continue to invest in renovation and remodeling, the trend will most likely level out throughout 2021, bringing production schedules back to a more regular and manageable pace and resulting in more typical, steady sales.
2. FRESH AIR EMPHASIS
Because of COVID-19, many people continue to stay home, work from home and homeschool their kids, either by mandate or by choice. Although fresh air has always been important to overall health, indoor air quality awareness has risen sharply over the past year as articles about the importance of proper ventilation started circulating during the height of the pandemic.
At the same time, the CDC released their official guidelines for healthier indoor environments, and "increase ventilation by opening windows" was on the list for homes, workplaces and schools. As families continue to invest in home improvement projects, new windows and window screens may become even more popular choices for this reason.
Labor is scarce and more expensive because many people can still make more on unemployment than if they returned to work. There is a big call for companies to take some processes off their floor. Insulated glass and window screens are commonly outsourced products and, I believe, will become more so in 2021 and beyond.
4. HIGHER INVENTORY AND BETTER PREPARATION
I hear rumblings of a global aluminum shortage, and screen mesh is still in high demand. Fortunately, our product does not use aluminum, but we have heavily invested in raw materials. We all saw what happened with the toilet paper supply in 2020, and everyone is still a little gun-shy at this point. As a result, I believe manufacturers will be overbuying and keeping extra months' worth of raw materials on hand from now on.
FOCUS ON FLEXIBILITY
The only thing we know for sure about the year ahead is that we can't know anything for sure. But we can prepare based on the things we do know by making wise decisions, keeping a weather-eye on the horizon, and being willing to pivot. Change doesn't care much about our preferred practices and flexibility has never been more important—in our industry and in our lives.