In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers like Linda Carlson of Coon Rapids discovered that buying furniture right now is going to require some patience.
“One of the things that we purchased for mom was a bed, and it took so much longer than they anticipated,” Carlson said. “I think as a matter of fact it was like six or eight weeks instead of the normal two or four.“
It’s a common story at many furniture stores.
When COVID hit, many stores had to close because they weren’t deemed “essential” by their state governments. But customers with time and extra income on their hands made online purchases and created a backlog.
“So demand went way up while supply was going down, and basic economics will tell you that’s gonna cause a big problem over time,” Johansen said.
On top of that, Johansen says supply chains are backed up, and many factories are operating below capacity to help maintain social distancing guidelines.
As a result, if you order furniture now, you’ll likely have to wait for it.
“You should plan a 30-day delay still on your inventory,” he said. “Maybe even 45 days further than what you normally would experience, especially for those custom orders that have to go through the factory one-by-one.”
The best advice is to start shopping for furniture about a month before you’ll need it, otherwise you may end up with a new home and an empty living room.
“Welcome to a new marketplace,” Carlson said.
Delivery times are soaring, and customers are often having to wait months for their purchases to show up. Delivery times for La-Z-Boy, for example, now stand at an “unprecedented” five to nine months.
The delays are the result of a perfect storm of issues, but that’s little solace to consumers who are eager to bring a new look to the homes in which they’ve spent the last 15 months in isolation. And it’s bound to be a source of frustration for Memorial Day shoppers, who are eager to take advantage of the usual deals found during that holiday weekend.
Some of the problems can be blamed on the six-day-long blockage of the Suez Canal in March. That lodged cargo ship resulted in delays of many other ships, several of which were filled with furniture. And even when they did finally arrive, they reached congested ports, which are slowing shipments further. Many container ships are being forced to anchor off shore and wait to dock and unload, since there’s a shortage of truck driversas well.
Even U.S.-made furniture is taking longer to make, though, due to a foam shortage that has affected manufacturers. That started when Texas was stuck in a deep freeze in February, since chemical plants that provide the necessary components to make the foam were shut down for extended periods.
Add that on top of that, there is short-staffing in factories and COVID-19-inspired delays. Virtually no furniture chain can keep up, especially with the skyrocketing demand for all sorts of items. The Washington Post notes that annual sales at mattress makers Tempur Sealy International, Casper Sleep, and Purple Innovation have jumped between 20% and 50% compared to a year ago.
Have an emergency and can’t wait several months for a couch? Your best bet is to ask about buying a floor model, or become a lot more flexible when it comes to style or color. Alternatively, upscale used furniture stores will let you take home pieces immediately.