Update on the US HVAC&R sector performance under the impact of COVID-19 pandemicJune 2020

After its longest expansion period on record, the US economy achieved its peak in February 2020 and subsequently has fallen into a downturn, as announced by the the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee.

COVID-19 outbreak is the main contributor to this development with some disastrous effects seen across all county’s economic indicators.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, a record one in six US workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March 2020. Some analysts are suggesting that the unemployment rate could jump to levels as high as 40%.

In the same time the US economic output fell by nearly 5% in the first quarter of 2020, the highest fall since the 2008 economic crisis, and many analysts expect this to be far worse in the second quarter.

To aid the situation, a $2 trillion stimulus package was voted in March which was considered as a bridge loan to help the US economy through the crisis. This consists of direct payments of up to US$ 1,200 to individuals, hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to businesses, increasing unemployment benefits and support assigned to hospitals and healthcare providers. 

Currently the economic picture is still muddled, and the contrasting views of economists do not help to remove the uncertainty of the period which lies ahead. There is hope for a strong global rebound in the third quarter (some economists believe that it may have even started already in April/May), which would mirror the recoveries in Asia after the SARS outbreak in 2003. Nevertheless, there is also a contrasting train of thoughts which warns that the COVID-19 pandemic could be far more destructive for the global and the US economy than any past outbreaks and that a recovery could take much longer than originally predicted.

There are opinions that easing lockdown restrictions in May in most US states is increasing the likelihood of a second wave of the pandemic, which in turn can cause a second wave of economic hit to the US. This, alongside the flaring up of the US-China tensions, can cause further damage to the markets and the US economy alike.

Majority of US AC equipment manufacturers expect the US market to fall in 2020 (by around 15% for residential, and around 25% for commercial and refrigeration equipment). To make things even more challenging, the US-based global manufacturers are also affected by contracting markets in the EMEA and Asia regions.

It has become increasingly clear in the past few weeks, that even though US, as many other countries, have started to reopen their economies, only paused new build projects have resumed, with a very small chance of completely new build projects to go ahead. As summer and the hot weather moves in, impulse purchases and refurbishment/replacement projects driven by extreme temperatures can be the bearer of hope for the HVAC&R industry to achieve some more promising results.

To assess the full impact of COVID-19 on the US HVAC&R sector, BSRIA aims to publish an update of its market studies at the end of September 2020.

Note to editors:

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• America sales enquiries: BSRIA USA: sales@bsria.com ¦ +1 312 753 6803, www.bsria.com/us
• China sales enquiries: BSRIA China: bsria@bsria.com.cn ¦ +86 10 6465 7707, www.bsria.com.cn
• All other sales enquiries: BSRIA UK: wmi@bsria.co.uk ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465 540, www.bsria.com/uk

Zoltan Karpathy Operations Manager, BSRIA WMI

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