ALIS Update: U.S. Construction Outlook Stable

NATIONAL REPORT—During the first in a series of Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) Summer updates, Lodging Econometrics reported that the U.S. construction pipeline was not affected as badly as some may have thought because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You think about COVID, you think about everything that happened early- to mid-March when it started, and we have lost out of the pipeline 55 projects and about 8,000 rooms,” said JP Ford, SVP/director of global business development, Lodging Econometrics. “That may come as a little bit of a surprise to some. Some may have thought it was a little heavier than that, but that is in fact where we stand at the end of May. That will change at the end of June. We will have our second quarter update within the next 10 days.”

For 2019, the construction pipeline in terms of number of projects is 5,693 hotels and 701,000 rooms. “For the first five months of 2020, we opened 26,186 rooms and are forecasting an additional 76,503 rooms from June to December, which will give us about 102,069 rooms, which will represent a growth rate of 1.9%,” said Ford. “You can remember that when we were in the middle of COVID, you had some states that halted construction. You had some cities and markets that halted construction. That all came back in June. So everyone is back on the job and those construction companies are working to finish up those projects.”

In terms of project stage, as of May, 1,850 projects are in the pipeline, which is up compared to Q4 2019. “Starting in the next 12 months, projects in the pipeline are up as well, and in the early planning, that is where we are seeing most of the drop right now,” he said.

When it come to the construction pipeline by chain scale, Ford said there is not much difference from the end of 2019. “Throughout this lodging development cycle that we have been in, we’ve all known that the big chain scales have been upscale and upper-midscale,” he said. “Those two chain scales have really dominated the development in this lodging real estate cycle that we are in. The same is true today. A lot of those types of brands you are familiar with  fit into those chain scales. There are 626 projects in the pipeline right now that are unbranded. We estimate that 85% to 90% of those 626 projects will ultimately select a brand as they move forward.”