Fourth-Quarter 2008 Lighting Systems Index reaches 10-year low

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND - According to the National Lighting Bureau (NLB), just-released NEMA Lighting Systems Index data reveal fourth-quarter-2008 lighting-equipment shipments to be the lowest in the Index’ history, a dubious distinction previously held by third-quarter 2008 Index performance, when shipments contracted 4.3% from the second quarter.

In its latest tumble, the Index contracted 4.8 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 11.

2 percent.

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.

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; fourth-quarter 2008 performance receded to the 87-point level.

NLB Communications Director John P. Bachner commented that “the residential market’s desultory condition is a major factor in the decline. Homebuilding is at its lowest level on record and a turn-around is unlikely this year. Large inventories of foreclosed homes are glutting local markets, and consumers’ ability to buy is hampered by growing joblessness and tighter lending requirements. Even compact fluorescent-lamp sales have declined, because incandescent lamps are cheaper to purchase.”

The only glimmering for the past year has emanated from the nonresidential market, and now that’s started to fade, too. According to NEMA Economic Analysis Director Brian Lego, overall construction of lodging, office, retail, and other new income properties fell for the second consecutive quarter, and more declines are predicted.

“Virtually all major end markets for lighting equipment are struggling,” he said, adding that the first quarter of 2009 is not likely to show any improvement.


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