Lumber prices drop to pre-pandemic level, but local businesses uncertain about new year outlook

The cost of lumber dropped 63% in 2022
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 7:17 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Modern Builders saw their lumber reach as high as a 400% increase in prices. But, that didn’t stop customers.

“It was an adverse effect,” said Modern Buildings Owner Tim Witzeling. “You would think it would slow things down, but it didn’t.”

According to Witzeling, lumber is about 75% back to its normal prices across the board. Beyond lumber, Modern Builders also supplies other home essentials, such as doors and windows, but unlike lumber, items such as doors and windows fluctuate in cost with fuel, shipping, and labor, among others.

“Historically, in this business and several others, rising prices fuels demand,” says Witzeling. “It’s like the stock market, everybody buys on a rising market. In a falling market, nobody buys. Even though the price is falling, that’s a little bit of an anomaly.”

When comparing prices, doors and windows are reliant upon other costs and factors, whereas lumber doesn’t have to depend on as much and the price can fluctuate. With lumber prices decreasing, and manufactured items increasing, Modern Builders is entering the new year with uncertainty.

“It’s a real smoky, crystal ball for everyone, nobody knows what to expect,” said Witzeling. “The first six months of the year, the first half of the year pretty much is stone. There are a lot of projects that are going to go and happen. The question is what’s going to happen in the third and fourth quarters of this year?”