Despite everything, the real estate sector is holding up | by Andrea Serri
December is traditionally the time for conducting a preliminary analysis of the year that is about to end. Taking stock is always a useful exercise, but this year it is more important than ever as it can give us an initial idea of the impact the months-long Covid-19 pandemic has had on the construction market. And although we will have to see how the situation evolves over the coming months, these end-of-year analyses can offer valuable insights.
One initial reflection concerns business volumes in the construction industry, where the much-feared slump in activity has in reality turned out to be a significant but far from drastic contraction, and in a few cases the situation has remained essentially stable. Despite the greater difficulties in terms of site management caused by anti-Covid regulations, work generally continued without further obstruction. Crucially, the long-established methods for transporting finished products remained viable and materials continued to be delivered to worksites without too many interruptions or delays.
Perhaps even more importantly, being confined indoors during lockdown or when working from home has made us all think about home improvements and ways of making the most of outdoor spaces such as balconies and communal gardens. These considerations have had two main effects on the real estate market. The first is that it led to a rush to find new and larger homes – whether second hand, under construction or simply planned for the future – that would be capable of satisfying our need for greater space, with the most desirable properties selling out as early as the preliminary design stage. The second trend concerns homeowners who have decided not to move but instead to renovate their homes, starting out from the rooms where they spend most time or which are in the worst state of repair.
Against this backdrop, the Italian ceramic industry maintained its vitality and appeal with a less than 5% decline in sales in 2020. This is a particularly significant result compared with the greater difficulties experienced by other sectors and industries and considering that plants and production were shut down entirely for several weeks in early spring. In the medium term, ceramic tile is increasing its market share in Western Europe compared to alternative materials, largely due to the unique characteristics of ceramic, including healthiness, ease of cleaning, sustainability, durability, aesthetic qualities and performance characteristics suitable for any use. During these months spent reflecting on the things that are really important in our everyday lives, the intrinsic value of this Italian product is making it a popular choice for our home renovation projects.