Plastics machinery shipments in North America continue to slump in 2020, according to the latest statistics from the Plastics Industry Association in Washington.
According to the association's committee on equipment statistics, the preliminary estimate of shipments value from reporting companies totaled $263.4 million in the second quarter, a drop of 10.7 percent from the same period a year ago.
That's a larger drop than the committee reported in the first quarter of 2020. In May, it reported that first-quarter shipments had fallen 6.9 percent compared with the same period in 2019, to $254 million.
The committee highlighted that the 2020 second quarter was up 4 percent compared with the first quarter.
"Although primary plastics machinery shipments are still lower than the previous quarters, the second-quarter uptick is consistent with gradual improvement in the U.S. economy," Perc Pineda, chief economist with the Plastics Industry Association, said in a news release.
The machinery data includes injection molding and extrusion equipment. The value of shipments of single- and twin-screw extruders fell 35.8 percent and 30.1 percent, respectively, in the second quarter. Shipments of injection molding equipment were down 8.5 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Plastics News Economics Editor Bill Wood said machinery shipments were better than he expected but show a continuation of a market slowdown that started in 2018.
"2020 is holding up better than I might have imagined," Wood said.
"The fourth quarter will be critical. I don't expect there will be enough business to save the year," he said, but "processors will have a pretty good idea by then about the outlook for 2021."
The North American machinery market is not alone to report slumping sales. German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers recently reported that their orders were down 20 percent in the first five months of 2020 compared with the previous year.