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A slow-down in house-building and housing repair in the first quarter of 2022 is being reflected in lumber import volumes.

UK show lumber imports in Q1 2022 fall below the record levels seen in 2021. The statistics of Timber Development UK show that while lumber import volumes in February 2022 were nearly 20% down on February 2021, they remain slightly above the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.

February was the fifth consecutive month where total lumber import volumes were below the previous year, indicating a return to more expected patterns within the market.

The biggest factor driving change between February 2022 and February 2021 was a 178,000 m3 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 lumber 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 UK 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.

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