Farm and Ranch: Still riding high
It’s still optimism, but it’s the kind of optimism that appears to be heading back to earth.
That’s one way to describe the mental state of farm and ranch retailers as measured by the latest Robert W. Baird & Co. “Farm and Ranch Supply Retailer Survey.” The data covered the July through September selling season and collected answers from a pool of retailers representing 250 locations in 25 states and more than $1 billion in annual sales. Overall, the results show third-quarter sales were generally up, and slightly better than expected, with more of the same expected for the fourth quarter.
Data shows the median sales growth for the farm-and-ranch retailer in the third quarter of 2013 was in the 1% to 3% range, after a growth spurt of 4% to 6% in the second quarter.
From an expectations standpoint, the survey marked a slight retreat from the strong figures reported in the previous quarter. And fewer respondents reported sales “well above expectations,” while slightly more respondents reported third-quarter sales below plan.
According to the survey, there was not a lot of movement in product cost inflation trends. Across the board, about 30% of respondents saw rising costs in key categories. In feed, however, only 25% saw inflation, compared with 33% in the previous-quarter survey.
Among core categories, clothing and footwear sales set the pace for the farm-and-ranch space in the third quarter. Some 20% of retailers reported sales were up more than 10% compared with last year. In seasonal departments, 43% of retailers surveyed said hunting and outdoor sports showed an increase over last year. Fall lawn and garden had a 40% incidence rate of growth.
About two-thirds of farm-and-ranch retailers surveyed expect the fourth quarter to bring sales increases anywhere from 1% to more than 10%. The median outlook calls for 1% to 3% sales growth in the fourth quarter.
Baird invites farm and ranch retailers to participate in its fourth quarter industry survey. Responses are anonymous. Click here to take the survey.
Crow’s Market Recap
Crow's Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: Traders blamed the short week, winter weather in the states and a moderately weaker market for quiet SPF lumber trading. Prices for specified lengths were negotiated more frequently, as mills worked those items to fill allotted railcars.
Southern Pine lumber trading was uneventful, constricted by the short holiday week and heavy rains and snow in the Southeast. Limited demand was countered by a shorter production schedule, and some smaller mills curtailed production for the entire week.
Demand for Coastal species faded overall, leaving most prices flat and generating a few deeper discounts. Wide widths remained the items with the most strength, while the position mills carried in narrow widths tended to weaken. Light sales activity was reported in Inland species.
The shorter holiday week’s lack of offerings from producers contributed to the slower pace. Those producers who did come up with offerings had little trouble moving them off, especially the wides.
Radiata Pine Shop remained in tight supply with buyers unable to cover all their needs. Ponderosa Pine 4/4 Shop prices increased $10, with some sales reported at higher levels.
Ponderosa Pine board buyers continued to look for coverage, many times without success. Any items with shipment times of two weeks or sooner were snapped up as soon as they were presented by the mills. Eastern White Pine producers continued to see active inquiries and strong sales.
Panels: OSB producers concentrated on extending order files rather than pushing prices higher. Most mill order files were into the week of 12/9 or 12/16; however, some producers quoted the week of 12/2 and looked for offers. Others looked for sales priced time of shipment.
Southern Pine plywood mills reported sluggish sales. Early exits from offices occurred in even greater numbers as travelers tried to get out in front of the storm hitting the East Coast. Prices were firm and held very close to prior levels. Thin order files and the approach of a long holiday weekend proved detrimental to Western Fir plywood prices. Prompt availability at mills forced some producers to discount $5 to $10.
Canadian plywood producers reported a quiet start to the week. Distribution center buyers bought cautiously; however, sales out of yards remained steady and fill-in wood was bought.
Overall, mill sales in both particleboard and MDF across all producing regions were lackluster. Order files often extended into the middle of December or later.