Glass and Glazing Industry Re-Gaining Momentum in 2022

The U.S. architectural glass and glazing industry was resilient during the worst of the pandemic-induced economic recession. Despite absorbing a decrease in construction starts in 2020 that ultimately resulted in reduced glass-related activity in 2021, glazing contractors and suppliers started this year with a positive outlook.

The Broad Look

The value of overall nonresidential building construction declined in 2021 but was well over $500 billion, and it is expected to increase in 2022. Residential construction spiked in 2021 to well over $730 billion and will continue to climb in 2022.

Specialty trades contractor employment pulled back in 2020, regained ground in 2021 and should continue to increase in 2022 as the construction economy expands.

Glass and Glazing Activity

The value of nonresidential glass and glazing activity was over $20 billion in 2021 despite a decline from the previous year, and it is projected to increase in 2022. Multifamily activity persisted through the pandemic-induced recession and will follow the strong overall positive trend of residential construction through this year. The combined revenue of the 40 largest glazing contractors in the U.S and Canada fell below the $4 billion mark in 2020 but grew substantially in 2021.

The office buildings sector was the leading area of growth for glazing contractors prior to the pandemic, but it slowed in 2020 and has returned to moderate growth since. Overall, U.S. contract glaziers appear more optimistic for institutional-related activity (notably healthcare and educational building) in the year ahead as opposed to commercial.

Industry Outlook

The Contract Glazier Outlook Index (CGOI), an annual numerical measurement of the optimism and current health of the U.S. glass and glazing industry, took a significant hit entering 2021 largely due to the pandemic but bounced back in a big way.

In 2022, it recorded its highest-ever mark since the indicator’s inception six years ago. Roughly three-quarters of contract glaziers expect an increase in sales for the year, and a majority plan to add employees in 2022, similar to 2021.

Also of Note

Prices in flat glass and architectural glazing have skyrocketed over the past year, and glazing contractors and fabricators/manufacturers alike are concerned with supply chain issues. Labor is also a key issue for firms throughout the industry.

Despite the concerns, most glass fabricators/manufacturers and glazing system suppliers predict higher sales in 2022 than last year, and glass retailers are also optimistic about the year ahead.

Transportation-related purchases continue to be the most common investment glazing contractors are making in machinery and equipment. Meanwhile, a majority of glass fabricators plan to make significant machinery purchases in 2022.

This article is a small excerpt from the 2022 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook. For more information on the extensive report, click here. Use the promo code USG20 for 20% off.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research, parent company of USGlass magazine and the™ e-newsletter.