If you’ve shopped for furniture or appliances during the pandemic, it can be tough to get what you need right away. More than a year into the pandemic, some customers continue to experience delays.
“You take turns sitting”
When Vincent Lloyd of Desoto ordered a leather sofa sectional last fall, it seemed like the perfect fit for his family room.
“The expectation, when we picked it out around the first of October, was that we would have it delivered around the first of November,” said Lloyd.
He said the delivery date kept getting pushed back. By February, Lloyd said he agreed to take a partial delivery of five of the seven sectional pieces.
“You have the middles, but you don't have the ends,” recalled Lloyd. “You take turns sitting in what part you had.”
Lloyd said when delivery of the last two pieces was also delayed, he sent the sectional back. Lloyd said he understood some delays may be out of the salesperson’s control, but Lloyd had sold his furniture – anticipating the new sofa delivery.
“If they were just being honest, up-front to say we have a problem with this, we don't know when it's coming. Then, I could have done something a long time ago,” said Lloyd.
Havertys Furniture told NBC 5 Responds the pandemic continues to impact businesses across industries. Havertys says its salespeople are selling items based on what’s promised by vendors, but those fulfillment dates have also become a moving target.
Shameki Marshall-Calton of Mansfield told NBC 5 she waited three months to sort out a bed delivery after ordering new beds from Ashley Homestore in January.
Marshall-Calton said the store initially delivered incorrect beds and told her it was a mistake. She said she didn’t receive the correct items until April.
“Personally, I think that a lot of the items that they're selling now, they don't have in stock. I think that was the issue with our bed and we weren't told that. We should have been told upfront,” said Marshall-Calton.
“That’s not fair to the consumer,” she added.
Ashley Homestore told NBC 5 responds it exchanged and delivered the correct mattresses to resolve the issue. It didn’t answer questions about the delay Marshall-Calton described.
Supply chain at capacity
It’s not just furniture, customers are seeing electronics, appliances and big-ticket items like hot tubs unavailable for weeks or months.
Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, said production that slowed during the pandemic is ramping back up, but it’s still not meeting demand.
“The entire system really is stretched to capacity right now,” said Gold.
One reason is transportation.
“It really starts overseas with the availability of the empty containers to put the products on to get to the United States, whether it's finished goods or an input to production that a U.S. manufacturer needs,” explained Gold.
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Gold says while the headline-making Suez Canal blockage didn’t help the supply chain, it’s not the only reason for bottlenecks at ports all over the world. And because there are multiple reasons for the disruption, there isn’t a quick fix.
“There isn't a silver bullet that's going to completely fix the global supply chain right now,” said Gold. “This is why you need all the different stakeholders working together to address these issues because it's not just an ocean carrier issue, not just a trucking issue, not just a warehouse issue. They're all interconnected.”
Factor in continued high demand for products and Gold said consumers can expect to see continued delays.
“We're going to see the volume of imports continue to increase throughout the year. Our hope is that we can address some of the congestion issues now and clear a path so that when those additional imports come in, they're not held up as long as they are,” said Gold.
What to know when you shop
“What that means for the consumer is you may not find exactly what you want when you want it,” said Tobie Stanger with Consumer Reports.
If you are shopping for an item that may be in short supply, Stanger says check with smaller, independent shops to get an idea of what’s available.
“They're in a cooperative and often they have a better idea of what the real supply is than the people you're speaking with at the big box stores,” said Stanger.
If you need something now, consider buying an open-box item or one with cosmetic imperfections.
Or, shop used so you know it’s in stock.
If you’re waiting on a delivery and want to scrap the purchase, Consumer Reports says to check the cancellation policy. Most stores will allow a customer to cancel an order prior to the item being loaded onto a truck for delivery.
Havertys said it is offering extra flexibility for customers during this time.
“I would make sure that they had everything that you were buying in inventory,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said waiting can be tough – especially if you’re trying to take advantage of a sale.
He eventually went back to Havertys and picked a new couch – choosing from what the store already had in its warehouse. It was delivered a few days later.
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