Peter’s Corner: what Covid-19 means for the natural stone industry and how it can adapt to it

Peter Becker.

Peter Becker, editor-in-chief of, highlights different aspects of the construction industry in times of pandemic

One thing is certain: the engine of the global economy will run at a lower speed in the coming months than before. This means: there will be less investment and fewer new (construction) projects, at least for the whole of 2020.

However, the Chinese economy already seems to be reaching higher speeds again. In Europe, the shutdown for companies and the lockdown for citizens is being eased day by day. Stone companies are currently still working off old contracts – it would be desirable if governments would help to initiate new construction projects. In some places there is already talk of an economic stimulus package.

Unemployment in the USA is reaching enormous proportions, although it varies from region to region. This is likely to have a negative impact on consumer sentiment there for a while.

In Brazil, the corona crisis has only just begun.

Worldwide, tourism and gastronomy are facing a tough year. Consequently, there will be no investment in new hotels, airports and restaurants.

Should Covid-19 have changed people’s (consumer) behaviour?

One thing is clear: home office is suddenly omnipresent. Perhaps the age of commuting, which began with industrialisation in 1850, is finally coming to an end.

This could change the significance of administrative buildings. Whereas offices used to be stacked up like shoe boxes to accommodate a large number of staff, open spaces for flexible workstations could now become commonplace – not open-plan offices, but mobile feel-good workstations with WLAN connections.

In particular, the facades of such buildings would be used even more than before to convey a company’s self-image to the outside world. Natural stone could be a winner of such corporate architecture in the medium term.

Things are looking different as fas as private consumers are concerned – they have experienced their own four walls in a completely new way during the lockdown and quarantine. The furniture industry is currently hotly debating whether there will be a new customer demand and what it will look like.

Some are predicting a new “cocooning” i.e. a new appreciation for the home, which one wants to have designed accordingly comfortable. Others see cooking at home as an increasingly important orientation.

Such trends had already emerged after the financial crises of 2001 and 2008.

Companies in the ceramic industry are already propagating their large tiles – incidentally those with a natural stone pattern – as the best solution for upgrading your own house or flat and making it more homely.

By the way, gardens and balconies are also part of the home.

Natural stone is well positioned here in several respects:
* stone is 100% natural and healthy (yet competing materials are promoting their non-porous surfaces);
* Stone promises stability of value, therefore such an investment in private property is worthwhile;
* Stone promises security and can be understood as a symbol of serenity.

Finally: if long-distance travel is not possible for the rest of this year, citizens are likely to set off to explore their homeland. With its quarries, the stone industry has a pound here with which to do public relations work. Moreover, there are stone sights in every town and everywhere in the landscape.

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(14.06.2020, USA: 06.14.2020)