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Where on earth is my sofa?

October 13, 2021

I'm Caireen, Owner and Principal Designer at Shift Modern Home, lover of wallpaper, tiles, gin, Formula 1 Racing and potatoes. Who's with me?

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With the influx in demand industry wide, vendors of furniture across the globe are seeing unprecedented delays.

Here’s why.


1 – MATERIAL SHORTAGES

The increase in demand for furniture has resulted in production delays for the raw materials needed to fabricate everything from furniture to appliances – think wood, foam, steel, fabric.

Foam particularly has been hit hard: most foam manufacturers are located in Texas and Louisiana. With the addition of a hurricane and an extremely cold winter slowing production, foam still is in high demand and low supply.

Even though we have pivoted to work with local and Canadian manufacturers as much as possible, they are still affected as they use materials like foam, or components that are sourced overseas.

2 – REDUCED CAPACITY AT PRODUCTION FACILITIES

Due to the rapid spread of the virus within production facilities, most are operating at about 50% capacity to maintain social distancing for their employees and to mitigate further spread of the virus.

At worst, facilities have had to close due to outbreaks, which has put further strain on production. This is the same for overseas and domestic facilities.

3 – OVERWHELMED VENDORS

With the huge influx in furniture orders, vendors find themselves in an accelerated growth mode leaving them short staffed compared to pre-pandemic times. Add to that the extended lead times and vendors find themselves managing 9 – 12 months worth of orders rather than the typical 3 – 4 months. As a result, acquiring updates and ETA’s is taking longer – what would normally be a phone call with an immediate answer is now a voicemail that may be answered a week later.

Currently all our projects have several vendors in this situation, and gaining timely updates is extremely challenging.

4 – SHIPPING CONTAINER SHORTAGES

Due to high demand for goods, shipping containers are also scarce. In turn this has pushed up the cost of shipping. One of our vendors has reported that their shipping costs have increased by 750%, and yet another vendor lost their place on a ship as they were outbid. That container had to sit dockside until the next vessel was available, creating a significant delay for the products on board, that was largely out of their control.

And it’s not all plain sailing (pardon the pun) once the ships arrive at port. Many ships are anchored outside port due to severe back ups that are compounded by labour shortages.

5 – FEWER TRUCKS + DRIVERS AVAILABLE

Freight companies are adjusting to the increase in e-commerce leaving a twofold challenge: more drivers are opting to drive locally, leaving a high vacancy rate for long haul drivers plus there simply aren’t enough trucks and drivers to deal with the current demand.

Buying a sofa, or any type of furniture, during this time of supply chain instability is a test of patience and flexibility. If it was just one factor to blame that would be manageable, but the combination of five makes for a potentially very frustrating experience.

Despite our best efforts to stay fully apprised of the order status for our clients, we are frequently updated last minute that a product has been back ordered, requiring either a re-selection of something that is in stock or waiting it out.

Last week we learned that a chair, ordered in August and due later this month, is now backordered until February 2022. Our client opted to re-select and we were fortunate to find something suitable that will arrive in about three weeks.

Draperies that were originally due to be installed this week are only now at the workroom as we waited out the long back order on the fabric.

A sectional that would normally take 14 weeks, is currently on a 30 week lead time – which we hope does not extend further.

These are challenging times for sure, and will take some time to resolve.


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Modern, fresh design for fun, stylish people

Calgary, Alberta