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Furniture Shopping in the Time of COVID-19

by Nick, Digital Specialist | May 4, 2020

With all that's going on in the world, we are experiencing a lot of new "normals," and furniture shopping is no exception. How have things changed? What can you expect?

When I started this job as “Digital Specialist,” it was designed to explore previously uncharted territory for Suburban Furniture. Sure, we’d always had a website, and we were set up for our customers to buy online, but my job was to hone in on this aspect of the business that had never really drawn anyone’s full focus before. With what’s going on in the world now, look how important that turned out to be!

Ever since our storefront was closed in late March due to the pandemic, buying online has turned out to be a customer’s only method of shopping for furniture. We’re finding that our customers are still interested in buying, too- maybe it has something to do with that fact that everybody is stuck at home!

One question people ask a lot: is this going to be the new normal? I don’t think it will be like this forever, though I’m definitely not a medical expert, so don’t take my word for it. My guess is that people will be shopping like this for the foreseeable future, and it’s something that companies and consumers alike will have to adjust to. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be buying furniture online forever- there will come a time when our doors will re-open and those people who are more comfortable shopping in a traditional manner will be able to do so.

With what’s going on in the world, it’s reasonable to expect some changes to the normal shopping process. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed through all of this: longer wait times to get your furniture. There are a ton of factors that make up how long you’ll have to wait for a piece of furniture: the factory where it comes from, the trucking company that brings it to the store, the store’s own delivery schedule, and more. Every single one has been affected by the pandemic- factories are at reduced workloads or completely shut down; trucking companies may or may not be operating, based on demand as well as the availability of drivers; store delivery teams may not be operating at full staff or working on a full schedule. So if you’re ordering something, don’t be surprised if it takes longer than usual. If it’s what you really want, it will be worth the wait!

One way to overcome this issue is to look for items that are already in-stock with your local furniture store. Every furniture store has a warehouse of items that are ready to go, so ask them to point you towards what they already have. Calling and e-mailing are still popular ways to contact a store, but many stores have options to Live Chat or even text a real human being, so you can get answers and suggestions in real-time. We understand that you might be nervous about your purchase, so we’re here to talk it over with you and help you make the best decision without making any costly mistakes.

We’ve also heard of some stores offering private appointments to their customers, to shop in a safe environment despite their doors being closed. It can be very helpful to see a piece, even just to put your final blessing on something you’re considering. This is not the place to delve into any ethical debates, but if you choose to opt for one of these appointments, we’ll suggest that you do some research online first, in order to maximize your time in the store. In other words, have a plan for exactly what you want to look at before you go inside. This probably goes without saying, but follow any and all safety guidelines put out by your city or state as well. You also may want to ask if a piece is at their warehouse, or if they can push an item just outside the door in order to minimize contact.

With more and more people staying at home, the demand for comfortable furniture is higher than it’s ever been. Regardless of how you choose to shop, your local store should have resources that allow them to help. It’s a tough time for everybody and there are a lot of new “normals” that we’re all adjusting to. Everybody is affected by this situation in some form or another. With some patience and some resiliency, we’ll all get through it together.

Nick, Digital Specialist