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Roofing Survey Paints Optimistic Outlook

Two workers roofing in the evening or late afternoon
The AGC recently predicted that pandemic-related issues mean the construction market won’t spark back fully to life until 2022. But a recent roofing market survey suggests that roofers are already well on their way to full recovery.

The AGC recently predicted that pandemic-related issues mean the construction market won’t spark back fully to life until 2022. But a recent roofing market survey suggests that roofers are already well on their way to full recovery. 

NRCA’s most recent Market Survey for Reroofing shows that about two-thirds of roofers expect 2021 to be as good or better than last year. The results show “that the roofing industry is mature, healthy and mostly robust,” NRCA CEO Reid Ribble said. “Overall, the most positive sign is that in the middle of winter, the majority of respondents remain optimistic.”

Ribble added that the most market pessimism is coming from roofers shut down by government pandemic actions in 2020. But he said the coming stimulus “will most likely result in a decent year.”

The Market Survey represents nearly 500 respondents who completed the eight-question survey during two weeks in January. NRCA said more than three-quarters of responses came from contractors, and the balance came from roof consultants.

“The results indicate the continued resilience of the industry in the face of a struggling economy and the global COVID-19 pandemic,” NRCA told its members.

Some topline excerpts of the survey are:

  • Thirty-three percent of all respondents indicated their customer inquiries increased during the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019;
  • Thirty percent of respondents reported a decrease in customer inquiries during the same period, and 37% indicated no change in activity;
  • The survey revealed a similar trend for project contracts with 31% of respondents reporting an increase during the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019 and 32% reporting a decrease in project contracts;
  • Twenty-one percent of roofing contractors reported no project backlogs, 46% reported project backlogs of one to two months and 23% reported project backlogs of three to four months.

The complete results of the Quarterly Market Index Survey for Reroofing are available to those who participate in the survey via an online dashboard that enables users to filter results by region and other metrics. Contractors and consultants who want to participate in next quarter’s brief survey can sign up for a notification.

Although the survey suggests roofers are faring well in a challenging environment, Ribble warned that three variables cause concern. 

First is inflation, especially around key roofing materials. “We are seeing things such as asphalt, timber, MDI, steel and aluminum going up in price — in some cases a lot,” Ribble said. 

Second is the difficulty roofers continue to have to find qualified labor. The issue even goes beyond roofing, since the trucking industry can’t find enough drivers. “So this workforce shortage can dramatically disrupt the entire supply chain,” Ribble said. 

Third, and related, is ensuring products arrive when needed. “There has been a chronic slowdown in delivery of asphalt shingles, for example,” Ribble said. “This is a disruptor that is often difficult to manage.” 

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