UK's timber import volumes return to pre-pandemic levels, but softwood imports decline year-over-year on slower housing, home improvement markets; inflation, likely decline in consumer confidence amid rising energy and other costs set to keep market slow

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LONDON , May 6, 2022 (press release) –

A slower housing and RM&I market in Q1 2022 is being reflected in timber import volumes, which fell below the record levels seen in 2021, according to the latest Timber Development UK statistics.

The statistics show that while timber import volumes are nearly 20% lower in February 2022 than those of February 2021, they remain slightly above the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.

While this was the fifth consecutive month where total timber import volumes were below the previous year, it marks a return to more expected patterns within the market.

The biggest factor driving change between February 2022 and February 2021 was a 178,000m3 decline in softwood imports, with hardwood and plywood imports up by 32% and 8% respectively.

Nick Boulton, Timber Development UK Head of Technical and Trade, said:

“After the 12% construction growth and a record year for timber imports in 2021, we were always expecting more modest import volumes in the early months of 2022.

“Softwood imports correlate heavily with the RM&I and new housing market which has had a slow start to the year.

“It is likely these markets will continue to slow as we head into Spring 2022, with the latest CPA forecast suggesting that inflation will impact these construction sectors the hardest.

“This is coupled with a likely slowdown in consumer confidence as the energy and cost of living crisis begins to bite in the coming months.

“It’s clear that companies in the wood sector will need to be more flexible in 2022 seeking out infrastructure and commercial projects in order to maintain strong growth.

“While overall these import volumes suggest a more ‘regular’ year for the timber market, the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine are likely to cause some market disruption.

“Members can find more detail on this in our latest trade note as well as our recently published market statement.”

Read the full set of statistics here.

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Chelsey Quick
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