Supply Disruptions and High Demand Spark Dramatic Leap in Lumber Prices

May 18, 2020
Lumber yared inventory check
By Tony Marturano

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood to the nearest home improvement store? Not enough to keep up with bored DIYers during the coronavirus pandemic. Lumber rose 6.3 percent to $406 per thousand board feet for the week ending May 1, according to NAHB. This is the first time since March 20, 2020 that the Random Lengths Framing Composite Price topped $400. Supply chain disruptions coupled with increasing demand for at-home projects caused lumber prices to surge, and experts say that the lumber mills will have to ramp up construction to meet the demand of the home building industry once the delayed busy season goes into full swing post-pandemic. 

Rising demand stemming from a surge of do-it-yourself projects from consumers working at home coupled with restricted supply due to lumber mills operating at a diminished capacity have led to a recent upsurge in lumber prices. The latest Random Lengths Framing Composite Price for the week ending May 15 rose by 6.3% to $406 per thousand board feet — the first time the index topped $400 since March 20, 2020.

Framing lumber prices have increased 13% since May 1 — the largest two-week increase in over a decade and the first increase greater than 10% since the start of the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Dispute in early 2017.

This recent increase in lumber prices comes at a time when the government reported backward-looking data that shows building material prices posted a record decline in April — during the height of the pandemic and before many states rescinded stay-at-home orders and began phased re-openings of local economies.

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