ECI Press Releases

Shortages send online searches for cheap timber soaring

The boom in home renovations accompanied by supply chain shortages last year left people scrambling to get their hands on affordable timber, new data has revealed.

Online searches in the UK for ‘cheap timber’ and related terms rocketed by 78.27% in 2021, compared to 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

Lockdown projects fuelled searches for ‘cheap timber’ which peaked in March last year – a rise of 89.5% compared to the same period in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

This continued into next month as searches jumped by 50% compared to April 2019, research from industry builders’ merchant software specialist ECI found.

There were already signs of surging demand at the start of the year, with searches for ‘cheap wood’ up by a third in both January and February, compared to 2019.

Andy Scothern, eCommonSense founder at ECI, said:

“Anyone who works in construction knows how difficult it’s been to source timber at a reasonable price, and our findings showcase these struggles over the past few months.

“The industry has come under immense pressure, not just from sky-high demand but also supply chain disruption and uncertainty, including driver shortages.

“Of course, managing customer expectations is always going to be a struggle for smaller timber and builders’ merchants who don’t have the same buying power as the bigger players.

“Low availability and price inflation may have led even their loyal customers to widen their search, which might explain why volumes increased so dramatically.”

ECi also found that searches for ‘cheap timber’ dropped by around 64% in October 2021 compared to the peaks of March and April. By November 2021, searches for ‘cheap timber’ and ‘cheap wood’ were no different to what they’d been for the same month in 2019.

Scothern, added:

“Thankfully, it looks like we will see more stability in 2022 but we’ve seen just how quickly the market can change, so businesses must prepare for anything.

“Despite the challenges, there have been some great examples of small-scale suppliers bolstering their business operations, enabling them to be resilient, adaptable and innovative.

“These firms, who are using technology to reduce costs and drive sales, are well-placed to take advantage of new opportunities, particularly as demand for sustainable materials grows.

“Our research found that online searches for ‘sustainable timber’ and ‘sustainable wood’ peaked in October and November last year, around the time when COP26 was taking place.

“There’s also the option to diversify by stocking wood alternatives like cork and bamboo, which are considered to be more sustainable.”For further information about this research, visit:

For further information visit ECI Solutions.

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