The value of architectural glass-related activity in nonresidential construction increased in March compared to a year ago. Glass and glazing-related spending was up by just over 4% year-over-year on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, according to Key Media & Research (KMR), a leading information provider to the glass industry.

KMR’s glass and glazing activity figures are adapted and modified from private and public construction spending data, with proprietary weighting and models applied to industry-relevant subsectors.

“While the numbers do look promising on the surface, especially considering the reverse from declines we saw last year, they are less impressive when factoring for inflation,” says Nick St. Denis, KMR’s director of research. “By most metrics, the annual rate of inflation in construction is well into the double-digits. The Producer Price Index (PPI) for flat glass is up close to 10%, and the PPI for metal windows has increased at a rate nearly three times that.

“This tells us that while the value of activity in the industry is higher than a year ago, the actual volume of work by glazing contractors has edged down from last year or is flat at best.”

Commercial glass and glazing-related spending increased nearly 8% thanks to strength in office building and the “other” commercial category—and despite a continued decline in hotel construction.

The value of activity on the institutional side was mostly flat, with an increase in healthcare building offsetting a decline in educational construction.

On a month-to-month basis, overall nonresidential glass and glazing activity ticked down by 1%, with equal declines in both commercial and institutional.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research, parent company of USGlass magazine and USGNN™. For more detailed insights, subscribe to his free quarterly glass and glazing update HERE.