How is your glove business holding up? Are you concerned about what’s ahead for the rest of the year?
For the first three quarters of 2021, the U.S. economy expanded at a torrid pace, as industries that were shut down during the pandemic—especially restaurants, hospitality, and travel—reopened. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected that the U.S. economy will experience 6% overall growth in 2021, putting it substantially ahead of where it was in late 2020.
Disposable glove sales, meanwhile, are forecast to continue to grow at double digits for the next few years after an extremely busy 2020. The new normal will be chaotic: With COVID variants continuing to spread and the virus surging in Europe, demand for disposable gloves is going to remain high.
Demand for exam grade not going away
Across all industries, businesses need more disposable gloves than compared with demand before the pandemic. Hospitals in many parts of the U.S., currently overrun with coronavirus cases, will continue to consume disposable gloves and other personal protective equipment at unprecedented rates.
Janitorial operations will see increased focus as sanitizing commercial environments takes even higher priority. As heavier industrial-grade nitrile gloves begin to come back into regular inventory, sales to automotive and construction customers will rise.
Glove prices, which had come down a bit, are impacted by strong demand and the high cost of logistics. The current situation with China’s electricity crisis could result in higher costs for vinyl gloves because of limits being placed on some manufacturers. Some restaurants are finding that glove prices remain higher than anticipated.
Supply chain will keep pricing unpredictable
Until we have a better handle on the supply chain issues plaguing the global economy, expect some chaos.
There is a lot of scrambling going on to secure inventory of gloves at the best prices, although price fluctuation is inevitable. Malaysia, which produces 80 percent of the world’s gloves, is seeing some easing of manufacturing restrictions that should help increase overall supply—but probably not enough to make a big difference until 2022.
Glove industry experts point out that COVID-19 has lifted growth of disposable glove use in terms of demand for the industry, and beyond the immediate surge in demand during the pandemic, they say that the use case for gloves will continue to increase as hygiene awareness grows.
With acute high demand for gloves and supply chains struggling through the busiest season of the year, we expect inventory to remain volatile for the remainder of 2021.