Why is the sofa that I bought online backordered for 8 months? Why did the website say that my shelf was in stock but then once I placed my order it notified me weeks later that it doesn’t exist anymore? Ah, these are the questions that we hear everyday for the last year. We feel your pain, but this is something that interior designers, and the vendors themselves, have no control over unfortunately.
Take yourself back in time, to March 2020, when everything was so uncertain and we were faced with an entire world that changed overnight. It was scary, weird, and a lot of other emotions that frankly, I am not ready to relive. While we were all feeling all the feels, vendors and manufacturers in every industry were experiencing a slew of uncertainty, with little history to support any decisions they made. As such, so many vendors canceled orders and halted production. That then created a domino effect that essentially stopped the normal supply chain for just about everything we buy and use today….hello, toilet paper shortage anyone?!
What happened next, was certainly not expected. After months of sitting around at home and being relegated to working from home, homeschooling and overall lockdown within our four walls, people grew weary of their homes and the items inside them. We all started fixing, redoing, refurnishing and doing all the things to make our homes the sanctuaries they always should’ve been. Travel budgets were now being allocated to kitchen remodels.
Those of us in the home design industry have now been faced with a daily conversation surrounding the availability of home furnishings, appliances and basically anything inside your home. We find ourselves getting extremely excited when we find a piece for a project that’s in stock, and we immediately show it to our client, they approve, and next thing we know it’s out of stock until who knows when. Let’s break down why this is happening…
Where’s My Sofa?
Between the halt on raw materials at the beginning of the pandemic and increased consumer demand from everyone wanting to change up their homes, upholstery vendors were already facing quite the challenge when it comes to production. To add fuel to the fire, the Winter storms here in the South led to power cuts for a handful of the largest Petrochemical plants in the country (which happen to be located here in Texas). These plants produce the key material used in foam, propylene oxide, which goes into your sofa, seating, and beds. This perfect storm of events have slowed things down to say the least, and chemical plants, as well as vendors, are working hard to get back in pace.
Where’s My Coffee Table?
This is one that’s been driving people crazy – “Shouldn’t a wooden table be easy to produce? It’s just a matter of sawing and building the wood together?”. Well, once again we’re seeing a mix of complications that have significantly impacted the shortage of lumber; the freeze on raw materials in March of 2020, additional safety protocols in mills that slowed down production, and a huge increase in home remodels from people coming to the realization that they don’t like the home that they’re quarantined in. These circumstances had already created a lag in lumbar production, but then here comes the horrific wildfires in the West. Millions of acres of timber were completely abolished by the 2020 wildfires, resulting in a massive shortage of lumbar; the building material for almost everything home and furnishing.
How Long Will My Remodel Take?
The amount of inquiries we’ve received for kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and overall home remodel projects has just about quadrupled in the last year. With everyone being stuck in quarantine, we’ve seen a huge increase in consumers wanting to upgrade their homes to become their dream house or to sell it at a better price (don’t even get us started on the real estate industry, that’s going to need a whole separate rant). The demand for labor in conjunction with the lumbar shortage, the primary building material, has created quite the waitlist for contractors, builders, architects, and labor in general.
Where’s My New Refrigerator?
Remember the very beginning of the pandemic when we all stocked up on food because we didn’t know when the next time we hit the grocery store was? Well not only were frozen pizzas selling out within seconds, but people also decided to buy an extra refrigerator and freezer to store that food. This was just the start to the appliance shortage that we’re seeing now. The biggest shipping and manufacturing centers for computer chips (in the U.S., China, Mexico, etc) had major Covid outbreaks, resulting in the temporary closure of the factories or only having several workers there at a time. This of course slowed down the production of technology of all sorts – ranging from kitchen appliances to smart home systems. Once again, consumer demand for all things home goods paired with supply delays created the worst case scenario and has left people waiting months to get a new refrigerator.