National appliance shortage has many on waiting lists
The effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns are now being felt across the device industry.
Residents report that fridges, freezers, washers and dryers are out of stock and have to wait months for orders across the region. Some find that spring orders are canceled as retailers grapple with the lack of supply. Others are immediately told that equipment will take much longer than usual to order and install.
“It’s like being handcuffed,” said David Tarpley, sales representative for Sargent Appliance in Clinton Township. “We had someone that weekend who wanted a white refrigerator next to each other on the same day. We laughed. If we ordered this today it could be here by the end of August. “
Freezers in particular have seen higher demand since the pandemic began as consumers try to get groceries at home to avoid frequent rides. The demand for refrigerators, washing machines and dryers is as always.
Martin Hartunian, CEO of ABC Warehouse, said the impact of the coronavirus on the supply chain is making it difficult for retailers to keep orders fulfilled.
“The harnesses, switches, electrical components, and dials are made overseas or in Mexico, which has slowed the production process,” said Hartunian. “GE, Whirlpool, LG, and Samsung assembled some equipment in the US, but with COVID-19 they had to rework their production lines, which has resulted in a drop in revenue.”
ABC Warehouse has 44 locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Hartunian said companies like his are in a kind of sweet spot when it comes to ordering goods.
“A thousand for a company with 5,000 stores doesn’t mean anything, they have a bigger problem getting that amount. 100 freezers come in every couple of weeks so I can fill 30 to 100 orders a little faster, ”he said.
Still, Hartunian still expects everyone to experience more bottlenecks in the coming months. The order volume slowly increases as employees return to work. Along with Tarpley at Sargent’s, he has seen countless new customers recommended to smaller retailers for equipment from large stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Lowe’s representatives did not immediately respond to comments on the matter. A Home Depot communications representative said the company’s merchandising and supply chain teams “are working hard to replenish items in demand, such as some devices, as quickly as possible”.
For Jason Lee, owner of Noble Appliance, this is a moment he’s been preparing for since March. The company has around 8,000 devices at its six locations. In one of the first weeks of the COVID-19 shutdown, he sold 170 freezers and quickly realized that more inventory would be needed – and quickly.
Noble buys its goods in the aftermarket or shop-to-shop as a B-stock supplier.
“We realized in the first two weeks after the shutdown that there were going to be major problems with the supply chain. We’ve found that those who typically shop at retail stores are willing to pay 25% to 30% less to get an open box product, ”said Lee.
Noble also had a lot more walk-in customers than usual looking for shorter waiting times with orders. For now, he said he wasn’t struggling with the 7,800 devices he still had in stock.
“We had a lot of orders in the beginning that were bigger than what we would normally place, only to find out later that everything was secured because we weren’t the only ones trying to stock up,” Lee said. “Now we hope to weather the storm and survive.”