If you are looking to furnish your newly built home, or if you are giving your current home an interior facelift next year, you may already be too late. The manufacturing and shipping industries have been hit hard and record delays are being seen across the board. As the global economy begins to rebound from the COVID-19 Pandemic, kinks are arising along the entire supply chain and extended delivery windows have become the norm. A sofa that would normally take 8-10 weeks to arrive, is now taking upwards of 25-35 weeks.
Rarely has it ever been so difficult to get furniture and materials, but our experts have the inside scoop on the interior design industry and how to get the things you need to furnish your space next year.
WHAT’S CAUSING THE DELAYS?
Lack of Production During Lockdown
In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, countries all over the world shut down their non-essential businesses for roughly 3 months. During this time, manufacturing companies were not producing new furniture, which ultimately led to the initial gap in furniture production. During this same period millions transitioned to working from home, causing people to spend more time in their homes than ever before and rethink their space, skyrocketing the demand for new furniture.
Reduced Employee Numbers & Socially Distanced Workplaces
After the initial shutdown businesses worldwide were restructuring to keep employees safe from exposure, while also keeping their doors open. The government restrictions caused companies to change everything from the building layout to the number of people on staff during a shift. When production resumed, the new normal slowed the pace of manufacturing from pre-COVID levels, furthering the production bottleneck.
Companies sourcing everything from wood and metal to memory foam were also affected by the pandemic shutdowns and could not provide the raw materials necessary for the manufacturing companies. This had a trickle down effect on manufacturers as they now not only had a backlog of orders, increased demand, and decreased staff, but they also had a significantly decreased flow of materials from sourcing companies.
Shipping Demand Increases
Shipping overseas requires use of large cargo transport ships with the average vessel carrying between 18,000 – 24,000 shipping containers. While materials and staffing decreased, demand for furniture skyrocketed, increasing the demand for product shipping by almost 30%. This shift caused a shortage in shipping containers, so even when furniture is manufactured it can spend weeks, even months, waiting to be shipped to the US.
Truck Driver Shortages
Another unexpected effect of the pandemic adding to the near perfect-storm of delayed shipments was a decrease in independent career truck drivers. New government regulations in the industry caused many career truckers to opt for retirement, rather than make the investment to adhere to the new truck regulations. Truck drivers are the backbone of America’s freight services, and when there is a labor shortage in the trucking industry, it has a major impact.
GETTING THE FURNITURE YOU NEED
Until supply catches up to demand, the shipping industry will continue to experience delays. If you’ve found a piece you really need to complete your space but it’s out of stock, here are a few ways you may be able to speed up the process and avoid some of the supply chain gridlock.
Buy American-Made Furniture
If speed is most important to you, buying domestic is your best option. There are two types of made-in-the-USA furniture manufacturers:
- Brands who source their materials entirely within the US.
- Brands who source from outside the US and manufacture in the US.
Furniture sourced and manufactured entirely within the US has a distinct advantage, as both the furniture and materials only have to travel over land, meaning fewer shipping delays. While there will still be some delays, you’re likely to get American-made furniture much quicker.
Buy In-Stock Furniture and Textiles
This may be the most limiting option of those listed, however if you need new furniture fast, you may have to sacrifice some choices and find something similar to what you want that is in stock. When visiting a showroom, make sure to let your salesperson know you’re looking for in-stock furniture. Mention materials and ask for fabric selections only heavily stocked in and made in the US.
Place Your Order As Soon As Possible
If you have a piece that you just cannot live without, your best bet is to order sooner rather than later. Even if it is before you think you need it, taking a proactive approach will place you higher on the wait list and get your furniture to you sooner. While this will not guarantee a specific delivery date, you have the advantage of your order being processed, so that as soon as it arrives, the retailer you purchased from can deliver your furniture.
Now that you know the reasons behind production delays, you can shop smart, knocking what options are available. Keep in mind that these issues have affected the entire delivery chain, and while everyone is working hard to meet the demand, it may be 1-2 years before supply is caught up to demand. If you’re shopping for furniture, remember to buy in-stock or US-made furniture and textiles, or buy early if you know what you want to get what you need with the least amount of delay possible.
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