Supply Shortage Affects Furniture and Appliances Production
By Manu Ferreira
These past two years have been harsh for homeowners and housing businesses. The increase in demand and supply chain problems created backlogs and material shortages, especially the ones that come from overseas. In some places, delivery can be delayed for weeks or even months.
“We expected our kitchen renovation to take two months, but due to lack of product availability and shipping delays, our kitchen renovation took nine months,” says Kelly Buh. She is one of the thousands of Americans who wanted to renovate their houses during the pandemic. Her family moved to Mahomet in June of 2021, but the renovation only started in September.
“When we ordered the cabinets, it took about three months to get the cabinets in, so that was expected, but when the cabinets arrived, they didn’t have any doors. So, there was another delay to wait for the doors. Luckily, we didn’t have to order many appliances because that was gonna be a whole other problem.”
The reason behind the shortage of furniture and appliances is that during lock-down people spent more time at home and realized they wanted to renew it. The increase in demand met factories and ports around the world being shut down, which delayed production and shrunk supplies.
“Demand has been up significantly in our business and pretty much all home businesses whether is flooring, lighting, electronics, appliances, they’ve been all in high demand. People have spent a lot of time at home; they want to refresh,” explains Rich Wright, Carter’s Furniture Manager.
Jeff Weathers, Dick Van Dick Appliance World Manager, affirms that working before and after COVID, is completely different. “We were used to being able to get appliances with a week or so, sometimes even less than that. And now is not unusual to see a three-month backorder status. It’s been very difficult for sure. Higher demand, less products to sell. So, it creates a problem.”
It’s uncertain when this market is going back to normal. Clients will have to be patient for a little longer. “Some people would say that this will be our new normal, which I hope that they are wrong about that for sure. But I don’t know. It really hasn't gotten that much better since it started getting bad,” says Weathers.
Interior Designer Haley Moneypenny has a different opinion. “I can see some improvement starting to happen, but I still think that we have at least another year before it gets any better.”
Stores and contractors say that at the beginning it was hard to meet clients’ expectations when it comes to delivery time. Some people felt frustrated and didn’t handle that quite well.
“It was really hard to foresee all of the issues that we would have. From businesses we work with and that we source our material from, they would give us one timeline and it could change,” states Moneypenny.
Jeff Weathers noticed a shift in client’s attitude. “I think that has kind of eased of that towards the last couple of years. I think that people are experiencing that not only with appliances but with almost everything, so there is a little more understanding.”
Even though manufacturers are returning to their standard production, some items are still taking long to be delivered. It varies from company to company.
“I just source a pretty high in stove and it’s gonna be six months. So, it’s still a really longly time. There are of course other companies that you can get much quicker. It kind of just depends on people’s wants and needs,” explains Moneypenny.
Rich Wright clarifies that since the store is 80% domestic, they didn’t experience the container shortage as most of other furniture stores that rely on imports. And for that reason, they have hundreds of items available in stock. However, some products, especially if they come from overseas, can take longer to be delivered. “Special orders, depending upon the company, are running from 11 weeks to 13 months.”
For Kelly Buh these past nine months felt like a patience test. “You know, you try to be patient and understanding of COVID, but when your kitchen is turned up for months at a time it does get really frustrating. Right now, we're just so happy that is done,” says Kelly Buh.