Domestic sawn softwood sales growth slows down but February a record month

Anecdotal evidence has been confirmed by the latest sawn softwood sales data, with total sales reaching 2.720 million m3 for the year-ended February 2016, up just 0.1% compared with the year-ending February 2015. This result was driven upwards by a significant month of reported sales in February.

The chart below shows sales of sawn softwood reported by industry.


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After a mid-year dip in 2015, reported year-end sales rose, potentially on seasonal lines, through to the end of 2015 and into 2016, to reach 2.720 million m3 for the year-ended February 2016. 

Although domestic sales are up, it is not uniform across all products, as the chart below shows.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

As many are aware and has been discussed extensively in Statistics Count, the Structural <120mm grade has experienced declines as it is progressively replaced by the value added treated product H2F. For the year-ended February 2016, sales of Structural <120mm declined 8.42% to 719,477 m3, while H2F sales grew 14.41% to 598,328 m3. Combined, the two grades grew 0.7% to 1,317,832 m3 over the same period.

These major grades grew modestly on a combined basis, so other grades must have contributed to the growth in sales over the year. Sales of packaging grades rose 15.28% to 475,480 m3 for the year ended February and hold a clear third place, accounting for 17.5% of total sales.

Sales of Ungraded sawnwood rose 9.97% to 253,096 m3 and Appearance grade sawn softwood sales rose 5.28% to 18,569 m3.

The major detractor from sales growth was Exports which fell 44.09% to 101,143 m3. This decline probably fed directly into increased domestic sales and to some extent acts like a balancing item on total sales.

In coming months, the data suggests that total sales of sawn softwood will continue to creep up, so long as the Australian Dollar does not move up further against the US Dollar, making most imports of sawn softwood cheaper and more competitive. If, as seems the case, the housing construction boom is softening, the state of the alterations and additions market will be of interest because it may provide the impetus for some continuation of sales growth.

Without any guarantees, it is possible that total annual sawn softwood sales could edge up to 2.8 million m3 by the middle of 2016.