The price of wood has halved in Quebec since March, but prices remain the same in renovation centers. What exactly is happening?
Photo archive, agency QMI
A Réno Dépôt in the greater Montreal area. At this renovation center, like most others in Quebec, prices for wood products remain very high.
“Everyone is irritated. Timber continues to fluctuate like the rest, but remains at a fairly high price,” notes Eric Côté, President and CEO of the Corporation of General Contractors of Quebec (CEGQ).
We know that the value of 2 x 4s has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, going from $1.50 to $9 in less than two years.
Ditto for plywood or 2 x 6, prices of which are skyrocketing to this day.
Since March, however, the Pribec index has melted by more than half: from $1,900 to $800.
This is an index maintained by the timber industry lobby, the Quebec Forest Industry Council (CIFQ), that measures the composite price of about twenty products, ranging from 2 x 3 to 2 x 6 to 2 x 4.
However, the forestry companies here get about half as much for their wood as in March last year. Opposite, a forest cut, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
“You have to ask the hardware stores because all I can tell you is that the price of wood is now half what it was in March,” said CIFQ President and Director General Jean-Francois Samray.
Wins multiplied by 50
Curious, this answer when we know that Resolute Forest Products, one of the largest lumber sellers in Quebec, for example, quintupled its profits from 2019 to 2020.
“Sometimes the price is already high when the wood arrives at the hardware store. In the end, the contractors and the customers foot the bill, and that’s not always easy,” assures Eric Côté.
Same in the United States
It doesn’t look any better on the other side of the border. The newspaper I traveled to Vermont last week to see if the prices were lower there.
Answer: not at all. We have visited four hardware stores and two sawmills where the prices are very similar to ours.
The place with the lowest prices is Clifford Lumber in the small town of Hinesburg. For example, the 2 x 4 x 10 retails for US$8.25 (CA$10.65) per board.
“I increased my prices a bit more than usual this year because I have no other choice. We have been in business for 100 years, we have to survive,” explains Peter Gardner, who is the fourth generation to own the sawmill.
He explains that he has trouble finding properties at good prices and that competition from big chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot hurts him, even though they don’t have the same customers.
“We’re trying to survive as best we can, but it’s clear that it’s not the small sawmills that are making money off the back of the world,” he says.
For him there is no doubt: the timber multinationals are raking in millions upon millions.
Still high prices in sanitation centers
Source: per Contractor Rates, Rona, Home Depot, BMR, CANAC