Softwood lumber is pictured in Richmond, B.C. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

While lumber prices drop, relief isn’t exactly on the way for consumers

Consumers in Alberta won’t see the benefit of falling lumber prices any time soon.

Liz Kovach, President of the Western Retail Lumber Association said in a news release Thursday that although prices are starting to drop from historically high rates, that won’t immediately be seen in stores.

“There’s significant lead times on products right now. What’s being delivered to stores now was purchased about 10 weeks ago. The items that are bought now with some cheaper prices, won’t be delivered for six to 10 weeks,” she said.

Kovach cites material order backlogs and transportation issues as factors in the delay.

There are still shortages of a number of items, and items such as OSB (oriented strand board) and plywood are in tight supply and still on allocation. These prices haven’t seen relief and there is still a huge shortage of supply.

A report from the Canadian Forest Service produced earlier this month says that despite increased demand, it isn’t easy for lumber producers to ramp up production rapidly.

The report indicates that lumber production in Canada and the U.S. has not increased significantly from pre-pandemic levels and is not expected to before 2022.

“High lumber prices are benefitting Canada’s lumber producers, alongside their workers and communities with sawmills,” the report reads.

“At the same time, they are difficult for consumers to manage. In Canada, market forces determine the price of lumber. So, supply must increase or demand must fall before prices will decrease substantially.”

Many suppliers are also struggling to adequately staff their manufacturing plants.

Finding and retaining a skilled labour force is likely to be a major issue both in Canada and the U.S. going forward, which could compound many of the supply shortages and logistics challenges.

Kovach said the price of lumber is dropping and will continue to do so as health restrictions are eased across Canada.