NEMA Index for Q2 2009 Is Even Lower. That Sucks.

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Well, excellent. </sarcasm>  The NEMA index is at a new low – a 4.3% drop over the terrible numbers from last quarter.  Hey, the awesome banker behavior that’s apparently still going on doesn’t affect absolutely everyone, does it?  From a press release at the National Lighting Bureau:

Silver Spring, MD: The National Lighting Bureau (NLB) reports that second-quarter 2009 NEMA Lighting Systems Index data reveal an additional 4.3% drop from the first-quarter’s then-all-time-low performance. On a year-over-year basis, the Index plunged by almost 25%. And for the third consecutive quarter, no bright spots: Each covered equipment category posted lower inflation-adjusted shipments compared to the second quarter of 2008. Luminaire shipments were hardest hit.

Established in 1998, the NEMA Lighting Systems Index is a composite measure of lamps, luminaires, ballasts, emergency lighting, exit signs, and other lighting products shipped nationally and internationally from the United States by the 450 companies that comprise the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), one of the National Lighting Bureau’s founding sponsors and creator of the enLIGHTen America communications campaign (www.nemasavesenergy.org). NEMA members manufacture a wide range of products used in the generation, transmission, distribution, and control of electricity, as well as innumerable end-use products in addition to those used in lighting. The value of NEMA members’ annual shipments totals $100 billion.

The Index uses 2002 data for its 100-point benchmark; second-quarter 2009 performance receded to the 72-point level, its lowest ever.

NLB Communications Director John P. Bachner commented that “the return of the residential market probably began during the second quarter, if not the first, but whatever optimism that uptick generates has to be tempered by recognition of continuing consumer frugality and a fragile labor market. Unfortunately, that situation could dampen the sales of energy-efficient lamps, like CFLs [compact fluorescents]. Even though they can save a small fortune over their useful lives, more energy-efficient lamps have a higher first cost that many consumers are just unwilling to accept right now.”

Optimism about the return of the residential market also must be tempered by realities of the nonresidential market. According to NEMA Economic Analysis Director Brian Lego, the commercial real estate market is getting worse, not better. He noted that “office vacancy rates are fast-approaching the levels observed during the aftermath of the dot-com bust and 2001 recession as financial and business services companies have laid off scores of workers while the manufacturing sector’s downturn has produced a new record high in industrial vacancy rates…. Replacement demand for lighting as well as retrofitting to energy-efficient systems will be dampened as firms try to find short-term fixes to cut costs and restore profitability. Even as economic activity begins to recover within the next few quarters, the sheer amount of vacant office, industrial and retail space available will weigh on new construction activity, and by extension keep a lid on demand for nonresidential-use lighting equipment as late as 2011.”

Bachner said he remains optimistic that lighting retrofits will energize the market sooner rather than later. He commented, “As much as we’ve talked about energy efficiency over the years, we’ve really only scratched the surface insofar as existing nonresidential
buildings are concerned.” He said that the Bureau is in the process of completing several reviews of existing data that “are eye-opening, to say the least.”

The NEMA Lighting Systems Index can be viewed at www.nlb.org/Index/.