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The Domino Effect of Supply Chain Issues on Appliance Availability

It''s Going to Take How Long for My Appliance to Come in?

Unfortunately, this is a conversation that we have had to have with many customers since the onslaught of the Covid-19 Pandemic. We live in a microwave society that expects everything they want and desire to be ready for them at a moment's notice. For the most part living in a microwave society has many perks. Furthermore, not having to wait weeks or even months for an appliance not only means that you can get what you want it also means that you can get what you need. After all, appliances are not just a want they are a need! We need refrigerators and freezers to store our food that we buy. We need our ranges, cook-tops and microwaves to cook our food. We need dishwashers to wash our dirty dishes, and washers and dryers to wash our dirty laundry. Therefore, wanting to know how long it is going to take to get an appliance that you need is not only a legitimate question it is also a very frustrating question.

Sadly, as we are now almost 18 months into the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have seen the availability of the appliances that we want and need become less and less available. One might say, "Surely supply chain issues should have been fixed by now!". However, there has been not one, not two but several different issues that have manifested themselves at various point over the past 18 months. All these different issues have caused a domino effect that has plagued (no pun intended) the appliance industry since the initial shutdown our our country in March 2020. "What are the issues that are effecting the supply chain?", you might ask. This is what we will explore here. These are some of the "highlights" that we have seen. We don't know every factor, nor do we have time to explore every factor that has caused the availability shortage in getting appliances. Hopefully this will give you more information to help you make informed decisions for your future appliance purchases.

So, How Did We Get Here?

Obviously, the initial shutdown of our country caused immediate short term supply chain issues. This is understandable. Howbeit, our country was not the only country that shutdown. Some countries shutdowns were longer than other countries. Some countries shut down more than once. Then you add in the fact that some states here in America stayed closed longer than other states. The Pandemic guidelines were different in each state as well. Some states were less strict, but other states were stricter. When you look at this aspect alone it's easy to see how each state or each separate countries shutdowns each had its own effect on different aspects of the supply chain.

Other Factors

The initial shutdowns were not the only and are still not the only factors going into the damaging effect that Covid-19 has had on the world's supply chain issues. Companies across the world lost employees that were valued and veterans with sometimes decades of knowledge and expertise. The loss of employees was obviously effected by the death of some due to the Pandemic. On the other hand, some employees decided not to come back to work either out of fear or simply settled for unemployment. This loss in experienced employees caused delays of their own, Either slower productivity because of new employees learning from scratch to products being damaged or not made with the same quality as before.

Another factor was and still is the high demand for appliances since the initial shut down here in America. People were staying at home and using their appliances more than normal. They ate out less and cooked more. They used their dishwashers, ranges and microwaves more. Some even bought extra refrigerators and freezers as they tried to stock up on different food items during the crazy and often uncertainty of the first few months of the Pandemic. Due to the high-volume usage of their appliances, it shortened their usual lifespan and caused people to have appliance failures which caused them to buy appliances quicker than normal.

Surprisingly, there has been a sharp increase in people buying new homes or doing remodeling projects around the house. These two factors have also led to an increase demand for appliances. A demand that was already strained became ever worse.

Chip Shortage!

I will admit that when I first read an article of how the chip shortage was effecting the car industry, I had no correlation of how this shortage would effect the appliance industry. With appliances becoming more and more "smart" the chip shortage instantly led to a halt on certain appliances. We were really starting to see some improvement in the availability of a lot of the appliances that we typically ordered. We were beginning to be able to tell customers that, "yes that appliance is in stock". However, when the chip shortage hit, we instantly started to see any improvement start to fade away.

Shipping Companies Short Handed.

The appliance companies were not the only ones who lost key employees and staff. We have seen over the last six months or so that those we count on to bring our merchandise to us have taken longer to do so than normal as well. There are containers at docks waiting to be unloaded but either no one to unload them or no truck drivers to drive the merchandise to it's intended locations. We are seeing this not just in California but at all major hubs across the country. Sadly, almost weekly we are reading a report or an email of the effects this is having on the supply chain flow. As stated earlier, there are other factors that have caused problems as well. Too many to focus on here in this blog. However, these are the "brightest" ones that we have seen that has affected us the most.

So, What Has Been the Effect of All This Craziness?

The effect of each domino has changed how appliance companies are making appliances and how retailers are selling appliances. Some companies put holds on certain products and would not let us order them for specific time frames. While other companies quit making certain lower end models and focused solely on higher end products hoping for bigger returns to help boost their capital in hopes it would help even out their loss margins. Some have even discontinued certain models all together making it even more difficult to find certain appliances that some customers want.

But What If I Want or Need a New Appliance?

First, as hard as it is, be patient and expect long wait times. You may also want to choose models that are available now even if you must settle for an appliance that may not have all the features you desire. And, if you are settled that you want a certain appliance, go ahead an put your order in now. Waiting on "things to get better" may not be a reasonable option.

Will things bet better? Absolutely! I am very confident in my assessment that supply chain flow will progressively improve. After all, appliance companies want to make money. What is the best way for appliance companies to make money? They need to sell more product, and to sell more product it's in their best interest to work on fixing the supply chain issues that we are seeing today. But remember, it's not one person or one company's fault. It truly is a domino effect. It will get better one domino at a time.

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