You may or may not know about the effects that Covid-19 has had on the United States Wood Flooring industry and not just the supply in flooring but the harvesting of wood as well. The lumber sector has fallen short since the start of the pandemic. From pulp & paper during the toilet roll rush all the way to hardwood flooring.
The Major Effects Caused by Covid-19
It’s been estimated by the American Loggers Council (ALC) that between January-July 2020 there was 6.7% less raw wood being delivered compared to the same period last year. This equates to a decrease of 21.4 million tons of raw material being delivered and a loss in the industry of $1.83 billion.
Covid-19 has impacted nearly all industries within the US but in particular, the timber trade. Why is this? As measures to reduce workforce, social distancing, lockdowns, and many other rules that have been implemented to keep workers safe, there’s been a massive decrease in the production of raw wood.
Having all these factors thumbing against the timber industry has resulted in many things. The main issue this industry is now facing is an increase in both delivery time and lumber cost. But why are such events happening?
The Impact Within the Industry
As mentioned, there has been a massive decrease in both timber delivery and sales since the start of the pandemic. It’s a good idea to understand how this may affect your current wood flooring renovations. Keep in mind, as the vaccine rolls out nationwide, we can expect these problematic issues to steadily reduce over the months or years.
Delivery times – Wood that is harvested worldwide has seen a huge increase in delivery times throughout the year 2020. Staff shortages due to illnesses or government rules across both the timber and transport industry have had a “knock-on” effect on each other.
Because of the global impact of this virus, precautions are taken at every step within the supply chain. This leads to the harvesting of wood taking much longer and also the same for having available warehousing and transporting workers to get the product moving.
Although some states are now coming out of lockdown and distancing rules are becoming shortened. There’s still a backlog that needs to be taken care of, which means we can expect to see an increase in delivery times for a short while after the pandemic.
In terms of wood that is harvested outside of the US, there’s still a massive increase in delivery times due to shipping and also their local government's rules and regulation, etc.
Wood Costs – Something neither you nor anybody in the wood industry wants to hear, but currently there has been an increase in lumber cost. This has been a hard one to swallow but it hasn’t just happened in the US lumber sector but many other industries worldwide.
There are many reasons why there’s been an increase in wood costs. It’s because of the warehouse, transport, and workforce these wood farms currently have. Not the mention the soaring prices of transport overseas in main ports such as China. Transport and shipping container rates have skyrocketed. Container rates have shot up over 100%. Much of this is due to aspects such as shortages of shipping containers.
Plans for Moving Forward
The wood flooring industry is indicating a dramatic change due to Covid-19. Not just within the wooden flooring sector but also pulp and paper, this huge impact needs an exit plan. Below are plans that are currently being talked about with the US government to alleviate some of the difficulties in this industry and start mending back to something “normal”.
The first is financial assistance, to remove the industry from the emergency to the recovery phase may require financial help from the government. To farm wood requires a lot of workforces, machinery, and financial capital. As there’s been such a catastrophic impact on money flowing through the wooden sector, some farming companies may need financial help to avoid bankruptcy and to continue to pursue it forward.
This also recognizes the support for other small or medium forest enterprises that may need help, Such as sawmills, transport, timber yards, etc.
Correct social measurements and guidance from governmental authorities. Through the pandemic it was clear, there wasn’t a solid plan and rules could change overnight. The US government has promised solid guidance that is sustainable through the development stages. Meaning that rules that are implemented will be targeted towards keeping the workforce safe, as well as keeping them working, even if another pandemic strikes again.
They’ll also support industries that play a vital role within the timber industry. Especially in sectors such as transport, transport is single-handedly the most important business that needs to be repaired. Both nationwide and globally, the support schemes and plans vary from country to country. But as an overview, most and if not all countries are planning a recovery process for their transport industry.
An Exit Plan is in Development
As you’re now aware, there have been some rapid changes within the wood flooring industry not just nationwide but on a global basis. However, all may seem doom and gloom but there are some great existing plans for the sector.
Prices and delivery times may have fluctuated during the pandemic and we can expect them to be like this for a while. There’s a clear indication that the government needs to step in with a correct protocol and talk to industry experts to organize an accurate and appropriate plan that they have promised, for the industry to revitalize and keep up with growth demands.
The exit plan seems promising and a brighter future for the sector is definitely in sight. The only thing required now is excellent execution.