Increasing demands, the "new normal,” and various lockdowns brought about by the pandemic have shaken up the economy. While things are getting back on track, many industries still feel the effects today as they attempt to catch up and navigate a host of new obstacles due to the coronavirus. Coinciding with the crazy real estate market witnessed throughout the pandemic, home appliances are one sector that is still facing a shortage.
Last spring, the initial shutdowns threw off supply chains and had struggled to meet current demand, as homeowners began to spend more time at home for work and leisure. Today, manufacturers and retailers struggle to keep up with the current demand for home appliances, as homeowners are left waiting weeks and months to receive their new products.
Demand For Appliances
Greater Appliance Use at Home
As the pandemic took hold and shelter in place designations were announced, many people spent most of their time at home. With more time spent at home, people used their home appliances more frequently, especially kitchen appliances, cooking all their meals at home. The increased use of appliances impacted their life expectancy, causing repairs or replacements much quicker than normal circumstances. Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding the initial lockdowns caused many homeowners to secure additional appliances like refrigerators and freezers to stockpile more food, beginning to pressure the supply of appliances.
Home Renovations During the Pandemic
Many homeowners found the pandemic to be an opportunity to renovate their homes, as they were spending more time at home for work and leisure. That meant replacing old, worn-down appliances and upgrading their appliances to newer models with more smart features. With many plans hindered due to coronavirus, homeowners opted to repurpose funds that would have gone toward dining out or taking a vacation toward renovating their homes.
New Home Construction
Homebuilders are attempting to ramp up production on new home builds to meet the demand of eager homebuyers. While the actual construction of these homes faces its own set of obstacles, outfitting completed homes with appliances has become another problematic task for homebuilders. Most contracts for new builds often include installing all-new appliances, so the house is “move-in ready.” The current shortage leaves both homebuilders and homebuyers in a tricky situation. Homebuyers have to choose between waiting long periods for the back-ordered items to arrive and be installed or accept different appliances than ones listed in the contract that may have fewer features but can be secured in a shorter period.
Slowed Supply Chains
As the coronavirus took hold worldwide, production across almost all industries either slowed or halted altogether, as uncertainty was at an all-time high. After taking an initial hit to their production, when these manufacturers reopened, they had less workforce available and introducing reconfigured processes that allowed for safe practices combined to hinder output further. These obstacles have continued to keep manufacturing from reaching the same level of production before the pandemic. Additionally, working with shipping and logistics industries, that facing similar challenges, further delayed delivering products to retailers and consumers.
Adding another wrinkle to the situation, the microchip shortage that is delaying the production of smartphones and cars, among others, is also affecting the production of home appliances. Advances in home appliances have introduced new features that optimize their efficiency and allow users to control and monitor their appliances from mobile devices—however, these required microchips to bring those features to life. While many manufacturers still offer more base models with all the bells and whistles, these appliances manufacturers now compete with various other industries that depend on microchips. Since the initial shortage in December 2020, manufacturers from all sectors are scrambling to secure their microchips to ensure one less obstacle in creating more products.
Available Inventory Today
Homeowners looking to buy new appliances may prepare for a long waiting period while retailers work to secure back-ordered products or test their luck shopping local inventory, which can be a hit or miss situation. Across the nation, retailers are waiting, on average, five to six weeks for their order to be fulfilled, which is a minor improvement down from seven to eight weeks from the previous year. This trend will seemingly continue for the next few months as manufacturers catch up and satisfy demand.
Trying to Secure Your Appliance
For those in the market for new appliances, the shortages are not so severe that if you genuinely need a replacement, you won’t be able to find it. However, the locally available stock may not have all the features you wish for or the specific color you desire. If you need particular features, the best advice is to submit your order as soon as possible. For alternatives to buying a new appliance, you can check out resale sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for any used products for sale locally. Servicing your appliance is another option, but many parts are also back-ordered and challenging to come by.