November brought a turnaround to the lumber market, in which prices finally stopped their slow retreat as buyers came to the table to secure their needs. Early in the month, many dealers placed orders to bolster their inventories through the New Year, and the result was a depleting of much of the readily available lumber that mills had been looking to sell for months.
The catalyst in bringing buyers to the table appears to be the realization that, with mills paring down their inventories and end-of-year shutdowns just weeks away, the bottom was either near or at hand. Business was also better than it had been in recent months, so the resulting influx of sales put mills back in the driver’s seat, at least for the near term. Although prices firmed and appreciated, they were fractured, with not everything moving in sympathy and lead times, which remained reasonable, gave a sense of security that this rally was not one that would be sweeping the market clean. As of print, dealers appear to be satisfied with their levels and have returned to a conservative stance of buying. Even though demand has subsided, prices remain on firm ground as there is less readily available wood for sale in the market. As is the norm for this time of year, lumber mills will shut down for a few weeks at the end of this month to re-tool and celebrate the holiday season, and that typically keeps prices propped up well into the New Year. Based upon this, we anticipate that prices will modestly inch upward as December draws to a close.
It’s hard to believe that we are already down to the final month of 2023 and that the official start of winter will soon be upon us. We were fortunate last year to have had a mild winter but, as New England weather goes, we know that we’re not likely to have a repeat. Harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, ice and snow can really hamper the progress of construction, but they can also be very detrimental to the condition of building materials as well. Especially for the upcoming months, protecting material from the elements is a very important step in the process of buying, selling and installing building materials, and one that we invest heavily in. As we’ve seen with weathered and warped framing, swollen OSB and plywood or tattered and faded house-wrap blowing in the breeze, it doesn’t take much exposure to the elements to damage most of the products commonly used in building a home. Whether it will be seen or unseen after construction is completed, if your products aren’t well-protected prior to installation and finishing you run the serious risk of some sort of reaction or failure that can be detrimental to the outcome of your project. Keeping things clean, dry, flat and protected is the name of the game and we take special care here in our yard to meet those criteria, but we know that in the field it’s a much greater challenge. To help preserve their condition, our Shippers routinely package our products in lumber covers, shrink wrap or dunnage sheets to help make sure that the material you are receiving is well-protected from the elements, and it’s critical that this same care is taken on the job site as well. Keeping the products flat and in a dry and protected area on the job site is ideal. Barring that, re-covering open units, making sure to place material on clubs (in order to provide airflow and prevent contact with the ground), removing accumulated snow and ice and providing some shelter will go a long way toward keeping your material in good condition. With these factors in mind, please be cognizant of the intrinsic value of the protective material we supply you with your orders and try to use it to your best advantage by keeping your products covered and well-protected in the field. Remember that returned products must be 100% resalable in order to obtain credit, so be sure to protect the material in a manner that best preserves its original condition.
We are very grateful to have been blessed to be your supplier this year. Weather and market conditions aside, we do our best to provide you with quality products and exceptional service and we appreciate every single customer we have that makes it possible. On behalf of all of us here at Shepley, we sincerely thank you for your business and wish you all the best in 2024!