West Coast – Business Trends October-November 2022 

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At the time of this writing, hardwood sales on the West Coast are slower than they have been lately and there is a degree of uncertainty about how the economy will go.
A lumberman in California stated, “It’s not as busy as it has been but not bad. You give quotes, the jobs are going to happen and it’s just a question of when they’re going to need the wood. That’s what’s going on. There’s a lot of quotes going on which will turn into orders. I’m not saying it’s overly busy, but it’s not that bad either.”
The market is “about the same” as it was several months earlier, he remarked. “I’m more optimistic than most people. I just see that the sales are there; you just have to work it.”
He sells all FAS No. 1 and 2 Common in 4/4 thickness in Walnut, Hickory, and White Oak.
He sells lumber to architects, flooring companies and retail lumberyards. “They’re still pretty steady,” he said, “not as busy as a few months ago but they still have business.
“It’s tougher getting containers shipped from mills,” he remarked, “but local transportation is good.”
A lumber provider in Oregon said, “Everyone is seeking clarity about what’s going on in the marketplace, what will happen.” He said the market is weakened. There is falling domestic demand as well as a slower global market. “Some people have pulled back purchases,” he stated. “Warehouses are full or don’t have much space. There is uncertainty with what the Federal Reserve will do with interest rates. The November elections, at the state and federal level, also provide uncertainty,” he said.
The market is not as good as it was several months earlier, he said.
Poplar, White Oak, and Hard Maple are his best sellers. He said that, among other products, they run a lot of their lumber into profiles at their moulding plant.
He sells his lumber to cabinet manufacturers, commercial enterprises that refurbish interiors of offices, banks, concert halls, universities, furniture manufacturers and retailers.
Transportation is getting better, he said.
In Washington State, a lumberman said, “The market has slowed over the past month or two it’s a little softer. All the negative news about recessions and the slowing housing market have affected the market.
“I’d say the market is a little worse than it was a few months ago,” he stated. “We’re still moving products. The price of lumber is definitely falling. It’s significant but not drastic: a 20 percent drop on some items. People are holding off on their purchases and only buying what they need. They’re not stocking a lot of lumber right now.”
He sells all grades of Walnut, Poplar, Oak, Maple, Basswood, and all Eastern hardwoods in 4/4 through 8/4 “but you could see any thickness go out of here,” he noted.
He sells to millwork shops, distribution yards, cabinet shops and others. “I hear mixed results of sales by those companies. Some companies are so backed up they’re not seeing a slowdown; others have said the opposite. It’s hard to make sense of what’s going on. Some sheds are full, and those companies are buying to replace as needed. Lumber prices are falling a little bit, and people don’t want to be caught with high-priced lumber.”
For transportation, prices have softened a little, and availability of trucks is better, he said.
Overall, he observed, “You feel like everyone’s talking themselves into a recession. Indicators vary, which is weird. Some are bad; some aren’t. In today’s world, it’s tough to tell where you’re at economically.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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