Surveys track modest year-over-year gains for block, SRW unit shipments

The 2020 National Concrete Masonry Association CMU Sales Survey, reflecting data from 187 plants, shows respective 2019 increases of 1.9 percent and 0.9 percent in the U.S. and Canada against prior-year figures. In 8-in. unit equivalent terms, producers shipped 1.17 billion block in the U.S. and 101.5 million block in Canada in 2019.

The 2020 CMU Sales Survey and SRW Sales Survey can be ordered from NCMA ($250, members; $1,500 non-members). Additional member discounts and purchase options can be obtained by contacting the Association, 703/713-1900;

Respondents to the annual survey, now in its third cycle, reported sales in gray or architectural block and concrete masonry veneer (anchored and dry-cast adhered) categories. The largest gains were logged in gray block among U.S. producers and concrete masonry veneer for their peers north of the border.

CMU Sales Survey results indicate “important growth data to the industry and the association,” says NCMA Masonry Committee member Gary Hensley (Adams, Oldcastle APG). “We see the increase in sales of concrete masonry products in the United States and Canada as a very encouraging trend for all in the industry. The annual updates provide essential information, and demonstrate that what we are doing as an industry is working or that we need to make changes to increase market share.”

In tandem with research behind the CMU Sales Survey, NCMA finds overall segmental retaining wall unit sales increased 2.6 percent in the U.S. and decreased by 0.1 percent in Canada between 2018 and 2019. The 2020 NCMA SRW Sales Survey—a fifth installment—reflects data from 39 individual SRW producers and unit licensors. Participating producers represent 174 plant locations across the U.S. and Canada; their data supports an estimate of nearly 238 million square feet of wall face was shipped in 2019 on both sides of the border.

Data was submitted in four categories: Department of Transportation-grade units; conventional 8 in. or 6-in. high units; boundary wall units such as those used for fences or other vertical applications not retaining soil; and, other, including products under 6 in. high. The latter category saw a 2.5 percent shipment increase from 2018 to 2019, the largest in the SRW Sales Survey.

“This survey and the data it conveys truly speaks for itself,” says NCMA SRW Committee Chair Wayne Villaluna (Basalite Concrete Products). “Altogether, it shows the continued strength of the segmental retaining wall unit market and its overall demand. The continued sales growth year-over-year benefits all in the industry, including producers, designers, engineers, and those who supply machinery, materials, and other products to segmental retaining wall producers. It’s extremely promising.”