Contract Glazier Outlook Index Still in Positive Territory— But Barely

By Nick St. Denis

The annual Contract Glazier Outlook Index (CGOI), a numerical measurement of the optimism and current health of the glass and glazing industry, took a significant hit entering 2021 due to the pandemic-induced recession. However, that was not enough to send it into the negative.

2021’s CGOI stands at 51.1, more than 17 points lower than 2020’s reading of 68.5, yet still in what is considered “positive outlook” territory. (Any reading above 50 represents a positive outlook—and the higher number, the better). This the first year the CGOI recorded a year-over-year decrease since its inception in 2017, according to Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company of USGlass magazine and a leading provider of information and research to the glass industry. The Index is one segment of KMR’s Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook, an annual in-depth report on the state of the industry (see page 48 for more information).

KMR’s CGOI is made up of five key drivers and measurements, weighted according to importance. Those drivers, in order of greatest to least weight, are expected revenue changes in the coming year, current backlog, hiring plans in the coming year, previous year satisfaction, and previous year hiring.

A look Back

A grade of 0 represented “Extremely dissatisfied,” 50 represented “Exactly as expected” and 100 represented “Far exceeded expectations.” The average of all respondents was a grade of 66, down from 2019’s grade of 80. This is no surprise given the widespread negative effect of COVID-19 on the construction economy, and in fact is a reasonable grade, all things considered.

A look ahead

Slightly more than half (51%) of contract glaziers expect an increase in sales in 2021 compared to 2020, with more than a third of all respondents anticipating an increase of 10% or more. This is down from a year ago, when three quarters of glazing contractors were expecting an increase in 2020 compared to 2019.

Hiring Plans

Glazing contractors plan to hire in the year ahead at about the same pace they had over the past 12 months. 55% of respondents say they hired additional full-time employees in 2020, and 54% plan to bring in new employees in 2021.

Assessing Backlog

Glaziers were also asked if their backlog entering 2021 exceeds their backlog entering 2020. Only 29% said “yes,” which was half the percentage from the previous year’s report, when 60% reported an increase in backlog.

The Contract Glazier Outlook Index is part of the 2021 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook. The extensive report, by Key Media & Research (KMR), is a comprehensive look at the state of the U.S. architectural glass and metal industry. The report provides historical (recent) and forward-looking insight and analysis of recent trends to give suppliers, contractors, manufacturers, fabricators, retailers and more a sense of the industry’s well-being in the year 2021. KMR’s research division utilizes survey data, regularly curated internal data, in-depth analysis of secondary data, application of proprietary models, and expert interviews/consultation from prominent sources within the industry.

The full 30-page 2021 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook report is available for $395 at

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company of USGlass magazine.

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