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At the halfway point of 2012, U.S. ceramic tile consumption (the sum of U.S. shipments and imports less exports) was on pace to rise for the third year in a row.

Through 2Q 2012, U.S. tile consumption was 1.09 billion sq. ft., up 4.8% vs. the same time period in 2011. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go before we return to pre-recession numbers.

The following table shows U.S. tile shipments, imports, exports, and total consumption (in thousands of sq. ft.) over the last five years.

 2Q2012Table1

Imports:

Through 2Q 2012 YTD, 729.3 million sq. ft. (67.8 million sq. m) of ceramic tile arrived in the U.S. This was an increase of 3.0% from 2Q 2011 YTD, in which 708.4 million sq. ft. (65.8 million sq. m) of ceramic tile were imported into the U.S.

Import penetration through 2Q 2012 was at 66.7%, continuing the trend that began in 2007 of imports' declining relative to U.S. shipments.

On a YTD basis, as of 2Q 2012, Mexico was the top exporter to the U.S. in sq. ft. with a 32.5% share. China held the second position, making up 26.8% of imports (in sq. ft.). Italy was in third place with a 17.4% share.

On a dollar basis, Italy continued to hold the top exporter position (2Q 2012 YTD), making up 35.3% of U.S. imports. The next two highest shares belonged to China and Mexico, which had 21.8% and 19.3% of the $ value of U.S. imports, respectively.

The $ value/sq. ft. of all tile imports rose from $0.94 (2Q 2011 YTD) to $0.96 for 2Q 2012 YTD.

The top five countries from which tiles were imported through 2Q 2012 YTD based on sq. ft. were:

2Q2012Table2

The top five countries from which tiles were imported through 2Q 2012 YTD based on total U.S. $ value (including duty, freight, and insurance) were:

2Q2012Table3

U.S. Shipments:

U.S. shipments (less exports) were at 364.7 million sq. ft. through 2Q 2012 YTD, up 8.6% from 2Q 2011 YTD.

Exports:

U.S. exports through 2Q 2012 YTD were at 23.5 million sq. ft., up 0.1% vs. 2Q 2011 YTD. The vast majority of these exports (in sq. ft.) were to Canada (52.2%), Mexico (13.7%), and China (13.5%).

(Sources: U.S. Commerce Dept. & U.S. ceramic tile manufacturers)