Northeast Business Trends – March 2023

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Throughout the Northeast region there is a consensus from sources, at the time of this writing, that sales are slow. One source however does think that his sales are improving.

In Pennsylvania a lumberman said, “It seems like the demand in general is picking up. China is quite active right now and the domestic market seems to be a little more active as well. Sales are definitely better than they were six months ago, I thought we were going to go out of business.”

His company sells Hard and Soft Maple, Ash, Red Oak and Cherry in grades No. 2 Common and Better with thicknesses of 4/4 through 8/4. “I would say it’s a toss-up between the Cherry and Red Oak for which one is our best seller,” he noted.

He sells mostly to distribution yards, importers and wholesalers. He mentioned that he hasn’t heard many comments from his customers at this time. “They don’t want to tell us that their business is better. They might think we will raise the prices.

“Transportation has gotten better. There seems to be more trucks available. We aren’t getting containers rolled or cancelled. It has improved,” he stated.

A sawmill representative in Maine said that his market is slow and quiet. “No one seems to know how much lumber is going to cost or how much they are going to need. They are waiting until the last minute when they need it,” he said.

His company handles Hard and Soft Maple, Yellow Birch and Ash in grades that range from pallet up to FAS in thicknesses of 4/4 through 8/4. Yellow Birch is his best seller. He noted that Hard Maple prices are so low that he has turned some orders away.

His company sells to flooring and kitchen cabinet manufacturers, furniture makers, distribution yards, wholesalers, brokers and industrial companies. “They’ve worked through their back log and they aren’t getting any new orders. I’m hearing talk of some of my clients maybe having to layoff some employees,” he remarked.

He mentioned that transportation isn’t affecting them at the time of this writing. Weather, however, is affecting their business as the woods are still pretty wet, “There aren’t a lot of logs coming out of the woods since everything hasn’t really frozen up yet. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise. Too much lumber is being produced and there isn’t enough demand,” he said.

In Connecticut a lumber spokesperson said that his sales are slow. “The market is worse than it was six months ago. There has been a hypersensitivity since the price for lumber went way up and everyone expected it to come down at some point. Now people are waiting to see if buying picks back up at the beginning of spring and how good the Hardwood economy and market really is,” he stated.

His company handles Ash, Birch, Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak and Cherry in grades No. 3 Common and Better with a majority thickness of 4/4 and some 5/4 and 8/4. He said that Red Oak is his best seller, not because of the price but because anything he produces from it he can sell.

His main clients are end-use manufacturers, flooring manufacturers, distribution yards and he sells some direct to the customer. “Everyone that I’ve talked to is anticipating a buying spurt. They are getting a few inquiries but no one really knows what’s going to happen,” he mentioned.

He noted that transportation seemed like it was getting better.

“I think that there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the next 12 months. Everyone is continuing to stay pretty conservative. People would rather be a week late to the dance than 10 minutes early,” he remarked.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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