Construction slowdown begins to impact timber imports

Following three months of steady growth, timber imports saw a gradual decline in April 2023.

Overall timber import volumes were 13.6% lower than in April 2022, with reduced construction activity in crucial RMI and private housing sectors largely responsible.

Gradual declines were seen in all categories, most notably softwood, which was down 6% from the previous year.

Despite reduced volumes, the monthly rate of change in April 2023 was significantly less volatile than the fluctuations of the last three years, suggesting a return to pre-pandemic market patterns.

This is echoed in the timber price data, with timber values appearing less volatile in 2023 than in the previous two years.

TDUK Head of Technical and Trade, Nick Boulton, said:

“Timber imports have had a solid start to 2023, however, the gradual decline in April 2023 is unsurprising.

“Crucial demand-driving sectors like private housing are struggling due to high-interest rates, with the cost of borrowing deterring aspiring homeowners. Sticky inflation is also proving an issue, particularly in the RMI sector.

“This slowdown, however, is likely to be temporary, with the CPA predicting RMI and private housing recovery next year.

“On a more positive note, the statistics highlight a return to more ‘normal’ market patterns, with import and price volatility appearing to stabilise in 2023.

“Though fluctuations are still likely, the figures suggest the dramatic peaks and troughs of the immediate post-covid years are likely behind us.

“I encourage members to read the full report, as well as the market data dashboards on the TDUK website.”

Members can read the full statistics report herealong with high quality dashboards to explore all our market data.