Sawn softwood sales up 13% YE July 2016

Sales of domestically produced sawn softwood totaled 2.931 million m3 for the year-ended July 2016, an increase of 13.0% on the prior year. The result includes sales of 262,100m3 in July, 14.6% higher than for July 2015. The major contributors to growth continue to be the H2F treated structural product, burgeoning sales of Outdoor Domestic products and the Ungraded (Utility, Merchandising) grade.

The aggregate data is displayed in the chart below. What is relatively clear is that with the last six months of sales all above 247,800 m3, year-end sales will continue to rise as earlier months drop out of the annual calculation.

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As outlined above and detailed below, growth in sales is dominated in just three grades, although most others have also recorded increases across the period.

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There is always interest in the strength of the H2F treated structural market, especially when it is compared with the declines in the untreated Structural < 120mm grade and equally, when the two products are joined together to assess total structural sales.

However, the grade of greatest interest ought perhaps be Outdoor Domestic. With sales to the end of July totaling 241,300 m3 and rising by 32.9% on the prior year, it is fair to ask, what exactly is going on here?

As ever, the data tells a fascinating story, but before we come to the specifics, it is worth a moment’s diversion. Once they are built and the new owners have moved into them, there is a whole lot of fun that begins for families. Usually they want a garden, maybe with retaining walls, they need fences to restrain the new puppy and perhaps a pergola to sit in while they watch their new grass grow. There is little doubt that after a housing boom that has been long and strong, there is plenty of timber being used in Australia’s outdoor domestic environment right now.

The housing driver is the same reason that retail sales in Furniture and Furnishings and Hardware have grown strongly while other sectors of the retail economy are in the doldrums.

The chart below shows the remarkable recent experience of sales of Outdoor Domestic grade softwood products.

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

The last year shows a genuinely surprising and symmetrical build up of sales, followed by a somewhat flatter but equally symmetrical decline.

From a low in June 2015 of 12.7 km3, February 2016 saw a peak at exactly double that, or 25.4 km3 after eight successive months of increases. In the five months that have followed, sales have fallen to 19.8 km3 in July 2016.

It is difficult to understand the rise and fall of the Outdoor Domestic empire over the last year, but there’s no doubt the product is selling like never before.