Lake States Business Trends – November 2022

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At the time of this writing, Hardwood sales in the Lake States had slowed down according to sources. The sources also noted that, depending on grade and species, that their sales are varying, with one noting that his lower grades are selling better than upper grades and another source stating that he can hardly get any sales for Soft Maple.

A lumber spokesperson in Michigan said that his sales have slowed down from where they were six months ago, but his business is still decent compared to what he has heard on the streets. He noted that his sales depend on the species, with his best-selling species being Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Cherry, Hickory and Walnut. He carries these in No. 2 Common and Better, with thicknesses from 4/4 through 8/4.

He sells to both end users and distribution yards. As of this writing, he said that cabinet and millwork seem to be busy; meanwhile flooring and RV don’t seem so busy.

Transportation hasn’t been a problem for this lumber spokesperson, and he said that it is better than it was. He remarked, “Overall, it’s not just the demand for lumber transportation that’s way less in this nation right now, it’s transportation for everything.”

A lumber yard representative in Ohio said that sales for his company are slow and lethargic. “Homeowners are hesitant to buy cabinets, flooring, stair treads or to remodel with everything in the world being so uncertain right now,” he said.

He said because of this, sales are worse than they were six months ago. Many of his customers are end users and concentration yards. He noted that one customer owns a custom cabinet shop, with their orders usually being eight to 10 months out. Right now, they are only four months out.

His best-selling species are Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple and Cherry, among others, with thicknesses ranging from 4/4 through 8/4.

He noted that labor is one of his bigger issues right now, while transportation is better than it was six months ago. He has noticed more truckers lately.

Another lumber spokesperson, this one in Wisconsin, also said that his sales are slow, with them being worse than they were six months ago. His lower grades are moving well, while his upper grades have begun to slow down. “My flooring lumber is moving, but my No. 1 and Better are very slow, especially in Red Oak,” he stated.

His best-selling species as of this writing are Hard and Soft Maple, Cherry, Hickory, Basswood and Aspen. He sells grades No. 3 and Better, with thicknesses mostly 4/4 and some 5/4.

He sells to both end users and distributors, with most of his sales going to end users. “Flooring, doors, cabinets, trim, they’re slowing down some. One of my bigger customers is taking voluntary layoffs,” he said. He also remarked that customers on the domestic front are not getting orders like they used to, and when it comes to exporters, they don’t seem to want to pay anything for the lumber.

For this lumber spokesperson, transportation hasn’t been an issue. He has local truckers that his company works with, which he said has worked well.

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By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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