Southeast Business Trends – December 2022/January 2023

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Across the Southeast, sources unanimously said that the market is much slower than it was six months ago. Many of the sources point towards inflation and rising interest rates for some of the reasons that the market has slowed.

A lumber spokeswoman in Arkansas said that the market doesn’t seem to have slowed down just in the Southeast, at the time of this writing, but all over the country. She said that the slowing down of the market for her company is due to less housing starts, and inflation causing the economy to be in limbo. “It’s significantly worse than it was six months ago, but I am optimistic that it will bounce back,” she said.

Her company handles all domestic species, including, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Maple, Walnut, and American Cherry. They sell these species in 3/4 solid unfinished and 5/8 unfinished engineered. She noted that they also use the basic NOFMA system and have Select and Clear Select No. 2 Common. She also said that all species, in all grades and thicknesses, are currently selling at around the same rate.

Her company sells to distribution yards across the country. They have not made any comments to her about how their specific markets are doing.

She said that it has been a problem to get their products across the country. They are having to pay more for transportation as gas and diesel prices continue to stay high.

In Tennessee a sawmill representative said that sales for his company are down from where they were the first half of the year, with things being much worse than they were six months ago. “I think that manufacturing has slowed quite a bit, and fuel prices are definitely affecting manufacturers and their deliveries,” he said.

His company deals with all major Appalachian species in all grades, including Poplar, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple, Ash, Cherry, and Beech. They do Poplar in 4/4-8/4, White Oak in 4/4 and 6/4 and everything else in 4/4. He said that Poplar still seems to be the bestselling specie for them right now, and Oak is probably the worst, as of this writing.

He said that they mainly sell to concentration yards, distribution centers, floor, moulding and trim manufacturers, and door and window casing manufacturers. He said that when he has asked his customers about their business, they said that their orders have also slowed down. “When their orders slow down, it causes ours to slow down as well,” he said.

He said that fuel rates for transportation have made transporting his products more difficult. “When fuel rates rise, so do transportation rates, and that’s definitely affected us a whole lot,” he remarked.

He noted that labor shortages seem to be the general theme to all manual labor industries, not just lumber.

In Georgia a lumber spokesperson said that his market is down. “Prices have really fallen off the table,” he stated. He also noted that his market is significantly worse than it was six months ago.

He mainly deals with Poplar, and White and Red Oak. They handle these species in thicknesses 4/4 and 5/4, in grades FAS, No. 1 Common, No. 2A Common, and No. 3A Common.

His primary customers consist of flooring and furniture manufacturers. When it comes to transporting his products to the customer, he said, “We are in good shape, we own our trucks.”

He said that when he looked at his market overall that, “Hopefully things will stabilize and get back within the range where we can break even.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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