Silver Demand: 4 Driving Factors

The law of supply and demand is a cornerstone of economics that helps explain today’s rise in silver demand. If the supply of a good decreases, prices for that good will rise. If the supply increases, prices will fall. Conversely, if demand for a good decreases then prices will fall. If demand increases, prices will rise. 

When looking at precious metals such as gold and silver, analysts often look at demand for them to get an idea for whether prices will rise or fall. And the statistics about silver demand are an encouraging sign for silver’s future price growth.. Silver has become an incredibly popular investment asset over the past decade, trusted to safeguard investor wealth in much the same way gold is. That’s largely a consequence of the financial crisis, which saw stock markets lose over 50% of their value and saw many investors lose even larger portions of their portfolios. That’s why so many investors today are turning once again to silver to protect their assets, and especially investing with a silver IRA to protect their retirement savings. 

There are four primary factors that drive silver demand, each with its own impact on the silver price. Investors who want to benefit from rising silver prices would do well to know them.

1. Silver Investment Demand 

We’ll focus on investment demand first, because this is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in driving up the silver price. Silver ended 2019 at $17.82 per ounce, and at the time of writing was at $25.47 per ounce, an increase of 43%. Compare that to the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, down by 0.7%, or the S&P 500, up by 8.5%. Silver has even outclassed gold, which is up 29% so far this year.

Net physical investment in silver increased 12.3% in 2019 from 2018, and is expected to increase another 16% in 2020. But investment silver demand is itself dependent on two major factors: demand for physical silver investment products such as silver coins and bars, and demand for silver exchange-traded products.

Physical Silver Coins and Bars

Physical silver coins and bars have traditionally been one of the most popular investment options for those looking to buy and hold silver. For those investing in silver with a silver IRA, the array of options makes silver coins and bars a very popular choice. But as silver demand has increased significantly in 2020, physical silver is becoming harder to find. Coupled with slowdowns and stoppages at various mints due to COVID, and the next year could see intermittent shortages of investment-grade silver coins, driving up not only the silver price but also the premiums paid on silver coins.

Silver Exchange-Traded Products

Exchange-traded products (ETPs) have their drawbacks, but they still remain a popular choice for many investors, not to mention an important factor in rising silver investment demand. While silver ETPs were actually net sellers of silver in 2018, they purchased nearly 82 million ounces of silver in 2019, accounting for about 8% of total silver demand. And projections for 2020 indicate that silver ETP investment is expected to grow nearly 50% due to increased silver demand from retail investors.

2. Industrial Demand

Industrial demand has traditionally made up at least half of silver demand each year, and the past few years have been no exception. Industrial demand for silver made up about 51% of total silver demand in 2019, and is expected to make up about 49% of silver demand in 2020. 

Overall industrial demand for silver is expected to fall about 7% in 2020, largely as a result of the COVID-related lockdowns worldwide. Normally one might expect a fall in industrial silver demand to reflect itself in a falling silver price, which is what we indeed saw earlier in 2020. But as the same economic conditions that lead to a fall in industrial demand eventually result in an increase in investor demand, rising investor demand has more than made up for falling industrial demand.

One of the bright spots in industrial silver demand is from the photovoltaic industry, i.e. solar panels. Silver is the key metal in the production of solar panels, and some analysts expect demand for solar power to increase 20-fold by 2030. Whether that’s due to solar panel mandates such as the one in California, or just increased demand for renewable energy, the photovoltaic industry could play a crucial role in a future increase in industrial demand for silver.

3. Jewelry

Silver demand from the jewelry industry is also an important factor. While demand from the jewelry industry is expected to fall 7% in 2020, likely due to the higher silver price, it shouldn’t have much of a negative effect on the silver price, as silver demand from investors should drive the silver price for the foreseeable future. And demand from the jewelry industry is still expected to be more than 15% greater in 2020 than it was in 2011.

4. Silverware

Last, but not least, is the silver demand from the silverware industry, which accounts for 5-6% of annual silver demand. Demand fell 9% in 2019 and is expected to fall another 9% in 2020, although that’s still over 30% higher than it was in 2011.

Why Now Is the Time to Invest in Silver

If you’re looking to maintain the value of your assets and safeguard your wealth, investing in silver could be just the way to do that. Everything is aligning just right for a significant increase in the silver price, with rising silver demand and tighter silver supply working together to send silver soaring. 

With the economy potentially on the verge of a double-dip recession, and with electoral uncertainty possibly lasting for weeks, silver demand should only increase in the future as investors seek the safety and security of precious metals to protect their investment portfolios. So if you are looking into investing into silver, consider taking a look at the silver IRA rules to see if a silver IRA could be just the thing you need to protect your retirement savings. 

The future is bright for silver, which is why many savvy investors are choosing to make it a part of their investment portfolio. The ability of precious metals to maintain their value and even gain in value in the face of economic turmoil is unparalleled, as investors have learned in the past and will likely learn again over the next few years. If you’re worried about safeguarding your hard-earned retirement assets, you need to take a look at investing in silver today.

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