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Why Is My Furniture Taking So Long?

by Nick, Digital Specialist | October 20, 2020

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted manufacturing across the globe, and the furniture industry has not been immune. In this article, we check out some of the factors that have led to delays and long lead times.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: the COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc on industries across the globe. Unfortunately, the furniture industry has not been spared, leaving retailers to start quoting lead times of several months, when they used to be several weeks. In addition, retailers who had a large stock of items ready for delivery have seen that stock seriously depleted, to the point that there just isn’t much left.

It’s impossible to address the question of how long a particular order will take, as it depends on a huge number of factors. But we can address the question of why:

- Factories were closed...: at the height of the pandemic, many factories shut their doors completely for several weeks, leaving work unfinished on the assembly line. This was done to protect the assembly-line workers, who often work in close quarters and where many hands can touch a particular piece of furniture from start to finish.

- ...but stores were still taking orders: furniture stores were closed for weeks or months as well, but many retailers were able to take orders online or by phone. As a result, many factories had a long backlog of new orders to work through whenever they re-opened, in addition to the orders they hadn’t finished when they closed.

- Record number of furniture sales: Shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders caused a lot of people to spend more time in their homes than ever before, leaving people to take a long look at their furniture and wonder if it needed replacing. In addition, many people are choosing not to travel or take vacations, freeing up discretionary income that they are spending on the home in various ways. As a result, furniture retailers across the world have seen record-breaking sales numbers over the past few months.

- Supply chain issues: On top of all this, furniture manufacturers are now having issues getting raw materials which they use to build their products. A trip to your local hardware store is evidence of this: many of these stores are out of key items such as lumber, fasteners, and more. Furniture manufacturers are in the same boat- they are having difficulty getting the supplies they need to make their products, which means it takes them longer to send the items to their retailers.

Now, there’s obviously nothing that anybody can do to get your furniture any sooner- if there was, we’d already be doing it! But here are some tips we can pass along that will help you deal with the scenario as best as possible:

- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: hopefully, whatever retailer you work with is forthcoming enough to let you know exactly what your order timeline will look like. There’s no way to know this for sure of course, but asking lots of questions and checking out a store’s reviews might be a good way to see if they’re trustworthy.

- Go shopping sooner: it may be too late for some people, but go shopping now with the knowledge that things are going to take a long time. Being prepared for the situation will go a long way towards preventing frustration later on. In addition, don’t pigeonhole yourself by saying you need something by an arbitrary date (ie. “I need it by Christmas!”). With everything that’s going on, your family will probably be understanding if you need to host one more holiday with your current furniture.

- If you like it, order it: yes, it’s going to take time, but better to get yourself in line to order now. It may be too risky to come back in a few months and place your order. The problem may get worse before it gets better- we are not psychic and can’t say for sure! But if you order now, at least you’re in the queue.

- Be cautious about cancelling and going elsewhere: If you already have an order out there and have been told that it’s going to take extra time, don’t be hasty and cancel right away. The issue of extended lead times is affecting every single retailer in the world, so you could have the exact same problem if you order from another store. Worse yet, you’ll be placing yourself in the back of a line for orders, meaning it could be even worse than when you started!

- Be patient: This is easier said than done, but we may be dealing with a new “normal” when it comes to ordering furniture. Furniture retailers, manufacturers, and customers alike are all learning to deal with this on the fly!

All in all, it’s a difficult situation for all parties involved, but we hope that this explanation of what’s going on can provide some insight into why everything is taking a little longer. Hopefully you’ve found a furniture store that has been honest and up-front about the issue and is willing to keep you updated about your new furniture!