Manufacturers are optimistic about the economy heading into 2011, but not quite as optimistic as they were heading into 2010, a recent survey of more than 1,000 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) exhibitors worldwide reveals.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents expect a "better year" in 2011, while 9 percent expect a "much better year." This 66-percent positive response is slightly less than last year's 70 percent.

Twenty-seven percent think 2011 will be the "same as last year," while 7 percent predict a "worse year."

Eighty-three percent of this year's respondents said their business so far in 2010 is "much better" than, "better" than, or the "same as" it was last year.

Sixty-one percent of the respondents believe there is "pent-up industry demand" for new products. In 2009, 69 percent of respondents felt there was pent-up demand.

Sixty-two percent of the respondents plan to introduce new products during the 2011 AHR Expo (www.ahrexpo.com), which will be held Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Las Vegas. Nearly 70 percent of those products are considered "high-performance/sustainable."

Although many companies expect sales increases of less than 6 percent in 2011, several expect sales increases of up to 20 percent.

According to the survey:

  • The industry segments in which respondents expect the strongest demand for their products in 2011 are commercial (66.4 percent), industrial (47.4 percent), and institutional (31.6 percent).
  • The industry category in which respondents expect the strongest demand for products is renovation/upgrade (39.3 percent), followed by replacement (30.7 percent) and new construction (30 percent).
  • Respondents expect greater demand for their products in the domestic marketplace (77 percent) than in the international marketplace (23 percent).