Glass-Related Construction Holds Up in March

U.S. architectural glass and glazing activity was relatively stable in March despite the onset of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Key Media & Research (KMR) analysis, the value of glass-related construction decreased 0.4% from February but was actually up 0.5% from the same time a year ago.

KMR’s glass and glazing activity figures are adjusted from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly seasonally adjusted annualized construction spending report, with weighting and models applied to industry-relevant subsectors.

Overall nonresidential construction, according to the Census Bureau, saw a decline of 0.1% month-over-month and a much greater 2% increase year-over-year than the glass-specific numbers.


In March, overall commercial glass and glazing spending declined 0.8% and 0.6% monthly and yearly, respectively.

The lodging segment continues to struggle, recording a 2.2% decrease in construction spending from February to March and a 13.1% decline compared to March 2019. However, office work has remained more stable, with just a 0.4% dip month-over-month and an increase of the same rate year-over-year. The other “commercial” segment, which includes retail, service and other miscellaneous commercial-type structures, was down a full 1% from February but up 2.6% from a year ago.


The overall value of institutional glass and glazing work edged up a slight 0.1% from February to March but saw a strong 1.8% uptick from March 2019 to the same month this year.

Healthcare construction spending increased 1.4% and 1.2% month-over-month and year-over-year, respectively. The educational sector was a 0.5% decrease for the month but was up 0.2% for the year. The biggest year-over-year swing came in public safety construction, which was up 45.2% from March 2019 to March 2020.


The March numbers were somewhat of a pleasant surprise given the pessimism surrounding the coronavirus-impacted economy, though April construction was much harder-hit, and that should be reflected in the next round of spending figures. The same is likely for May. Stay tuned to™ as we continue to track this and other important developments.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research at Key Media & Research, parent company of USGlass magazine. Subscribe to his free Glass and Glazing Quarterly Review report here.

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