Members of the HVACR community reported a continued positive business outlook heading into 2020 in the latest AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal Annual Economic Outlook Survey. The survey was distributed to past and prospective attendees, as well as industry manufacturers, to gauge the market leading into the new year. Additionally, for the first time, the 2020 report includes input on trends, issues and opportunities as outlined by representatives from industry associations regarding their respective areas of expertise.
According to the report, 79% of respondents indicated good or excellent predicted sales prospects as we cross into 2020. While there continues to be shifts in the market, overall, the industry remains in a positive economic position. For example, heading in to 2019 the ‘“retrofit and renovation” segment was ranked as having the highest business growth potential. This year, it fell to second place, falling behind maintenance and replacement jobs.
“Manufacturers and our attendee shareholders alike are reporting a strong economy,” said Mark Stevens, manager of AHR Expo. “Our recent report reveals that members of the HVACR community expect the successes of 2019 to hold in the new year. This will be evident on the Show floor as our exhibitors continue to introduce new and innovative products that meet the rising demand for smarter and more efficient solutions.”
Each year the AHR Expo kicks off business Q1 with the industry’s first chance to see what’s new in HVACR. Exhibitors use the opportunity to launch products at the Show and discuss new opportunities ahead. As a precursor to the Show, the survey conducted at the end of Q4 provides the opportunity to gauge what’s expected in the year ahead.
“The HVACR industry remains in a season of change, with innovation and advancement happening in all sectors,” continued Stevens. “Considerations such as the global market, changing customer demands and new innovation demands are shaping product designs and the way we approach the built environment. Across the board, whether entirely new concepts or improvements upon existing product lines, our exhibitors are thinking smarter and delivering impressive solutions.”
When asked about 2019 sales, 34% of respondents reported an increase of 10% or more, and 70% indicated sales growth of at least 10%. Additionally, respondents reported expected growth in nearly all areas of the industry, with light commercial, health and residential markets identified as having the highest potential in 2020 at 72%, 67% and 64% respectively.
As in previous years, reliability holds steady as the most important consideration factor for consumers when making purchasing decisions. Both exhibitors and attendees alike ranked it as the most important, coming in at 81% for exhibitors and slightly more than 98% for attendees. For the second year in a row, both energy efficiency and indoor air quality secured a top spot in relation to consumer importance among exhibitors, at 67% and 64% respectively. Attendees, however, placed initial costs second at right under 98%, and comfort considerations third at 96%.
Areas of concern include rising tariffs and the need to recruit and retain a strong skilled workforce. Additionally, changing DOE regulations and R22 refrigerant phase-out remains high on respondent radars. Areas of opportunity include automation and self-diagnostic controls and continued growth in the IoT/IIoT space. On the horizon for potential impacts to the industry include the forthcoming 2020 Presidential election, growth of big-box retailers and the viability of new technologies in the market.
The Annual Economic Outlook Survey of HVACR manufacturers and attendees is compiled by AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal.