COVID-19 IMPACT SURVEY MAY 2020
As companies cut CAPEX and R&D spends amid the recession, Fire Resistant Fabrics market will witness temporary disruption in business opportunities. As COVID-19 infections surge to over 3 million, the global economy is entering into a recession at -3% GDP growth for the year 2020. Business confidence is nose diving as the pandemic worsens and continues to spread. Virtually every company is facing financial woes as the pandemic stalls economic activity and disrupts trade, production, demand and supply. Investor confidence as measured by equity-market performance is in a free fall. Against this backdrop, B2B spending is freezing. With industrial and manufacturing activity coming to a grinding halt, purchases of PPE including fire resistant clothing by chemical and other industrial plants and factories are also being impacted. Demand for these fabrics in the manufacture of curtains, furnishings, and other decorative textiles are also declining in parallel to the decline in consumer discretionary spending. With defense budgets expected to be slashed with the pandemic widening government deficits, new orders from the military sector will also decline in the coming years. R&D budgets for new fire resistant fabrics are being downsized, stifling innovation which is a key growth catalyst. Manufacturers' revenues are declining amidst quick drying up of customer orders, sales and cash reserves. Against this backdrop, the global market size for Fire Resistant Fabrics is revised at a projected US$4.6 billion for the year 2027.
The market will however bounce back in the post COVID-19 period as the threat of fire accidents is ever-present, despite stringent fire safety regulations in workplaces and factory floors. Growing awareness over the importance of fire prevention plans will see a return of voluntary adoption of fire safety measures by companies as the economic climate improves. Rising costs of non-compliance to worker safety regulations in the form of hefty penalties and expensive legal services and guidance will also encourage investments in personal protective equipment (PPE) during this period. The most important motivation for investing in fire resistant clothing as always will be the significant economic and financial losses caused by fires to not just property and assets but also the unquantifiable social cost of loss of life and injuries. Human loss and suffering is immeasurable. Fire-related fatalities and injuries continue to remain high especially in high risk hazardous work environments like oil and gas; chemical plants; process plants; metalworking job shops; among others. As plant operationsgradually resume, demand for fire safety wear will also improve as flame-retardant (FR) and flame-Resistant (FR) clothing are the first line of personnel protection against fire.
A fair share of focus will be shed on developing clothing with comfortable fit and mobility for a wide range of body types and contours. Cost, comfort and protection have always been key design and development considerations. Gender specific innovations which were rife in the market before the pandemic will regain lost momentum. Few of the innovations that the market has witnessed so far include fabrics based on partially carbonized materials that do not decompose to form hard plastic when exposed to fire like meta-aramid fibers; moisture-wicking garments that keeps the wearer cool and dry in extreme heat; anti-bacterial and anti-odor fabrics; multilayered woven and non-woven protective fabric assemblies; insulation materials and reinforced woven's in composite solutions; and a host of other fabrics with diverse multi-functional features such as body temperature control, motion enhancement, lightweight, comfort, breathability, evaporation, moisture control, flexibility, and anti-static property. Growth in the post pandemic period will also come from the rapid expansion of fire disaster planning and management teams. Extreme weather conditions, global warming and the ensuing unnatural and abnormal increase in forest fires, will lead to the expansion of disaster management forest service firefighter teams. With temperatures high than normal, there is a 6 fold increase in forest fires in countries across the world. Also, with fire safety norms becoming stringent, there will be a need for expanding fire response and firefighting teams which are currently understaffed and overworked in numerous countries.