After having a year for the supply chain to stabilize, there has been some shift in the market for building supplies.

While not everything has recovered, some products have certainly improved in both price and availability. 

Back when restrictions first lifted, and even before, lumber was a scarce commodity. What could be purchased had been marked up so high that only a few people outside of industrial users were unable to justify the expense. 

A year later, and things have shifted both in price and supply. Riley Woods is the building materials manager for Pioneer Co-op, and he has seen the change slowly reset the scales in their operation. 

"A year ago, sheet goods like your standard plywood, your construction grade plywood, that was all tough to get," said Woods. "The pricing on that was almost double of what it is now."

At the peak of the price hike, those same materials were running at $70 to $80 a sheet. Now, they are selling for around $18 each. 

"In terms of those sheet goods, we're substantially less expensive now."

As for supply, they also have an abundance of available materials for buyers to choose from. During the pandemic, when everyone was staying home, the demand for wood skyrocketed as people engaged in hobbies, renovations, and various other conifer-consuming activities. 

"Which is what caused the drive in price and then obviously the shortage in quantity," said Woods. "You could get the product if you were willing to pay the price for it. There was never a time where you really couldn't get something if you wanted it, but it was just whether or not you were willing to pay the high price for it."

While time has allowed the timber side of the supply market to recover, it hasn't been so kind to other industry suppliers. 

For the folks over at Bartle & Gibson Wholesale, there is still a demand for more than can be easily provided. The plumbing centre, which deals with many different kinds of materials, has continued to struggle with the crippled supply chain. 

Kevin Tuchscherer, the branch manager for the Bartle & Gibson Swift Current location, has been attempting to work around the supply problems for over a year now. 

Bartle & Gibson Store front in swift currentBratle & Gibson in Swift Current. (photo courtesy of Kevin Tuchsherer)

"A lot of products made of plastic or PVC are hard to get," said Tuchscherer. "We also sell electronic materials, and there are products there that are really long lead times that traditionally have never been long lead times."

With there being delays in procuring the product, there is a subsequent delay for customers in their ability to complete projects. 

While the supply issues have persisted, there is a silver lining: at least the prices have somewhat stabilized. 

"I think the price increases have slowed down," said Tuchsherer. "Last year at this time, price increases were non-stop. Every manufacturer was going up every couple of months. That's not normal. Now I think the price increases have kind of returned to normal. It's just impossible to get the material."

For the foreseeable future, the challenges Tuchsherer and his team face look like they will continue. It's gotten to the point where Tuchsherer is starting to wonder about the nature of the problem.

"It's been happening so long that I do think there might be other forces at play there," Tuchsherer said. "When the supply chain issues first started, they were blaming it on raw material shortages and a lack of labour to produce the material. It doesn't make any sense to me."  

While some retailers have managed a stable recovery, others are still on shaky supply legs. If supply chain issues continue, it waits to be seen what the repercussions will be for the economy as a whole.