The real estate market is still hot and moves mean new spaces to design and new furnishings to buy. While it is getting better, supply chain issues still plague the home furnishing industry. I hear these questions from clients every day, “Why is furniture so slow to deliver right now? Why are so many items out of stock? How can I furnish my house when nothing is available?” There is quite a bit to unpack about how we got here. And there are creative ways to get furniture now.
It began with COVID
Furniture manufacturing is a non-essential job, so the initial shutdown led to a gap in furniture production. Because of the manufacturing gap, no new furniture was made during the months that companies were shut down.
Once manufacturing could start-up again, companies faced worker shortages, driver shortages, traffic jams at container ports, and ongoing COVID restrictions. Some analysts predict this won’t fully resolve until 2024.
A shortage of foam
Furniture requiring foam is even more impacted. Some sofa and mattress companies tripled their lead time. The demand for furnishings was quite high while everyone in the world stayed home for months, creating the need for new spaces for school, work, and entertainment.
Most foam suppliers are based in Texas and Louisiana, close to the chemical companies with the ingredients for foam. During 2020, the chemical manufacturers were hit first by the pandemic, then by a hurricane that temporarily shut them down; this was followed by a frigid winter that prevented them from manufacturing at normal rates.
Demand + Inflation
As if the wait times haven’t been difficult enough, increasing demand and a shortage of goods created the perfect environment for rising prices. Home furnishings have experienced rising prices just like nearly everything else in the consumer goods space.
Where do I find what I need?
There is furniture available for your design project. You may have heard the news that some online retailers over-bought anticipating continued high demand and are now holding sales to move an abundance of inventory. This is most true at the lower end of the market at online retailers. The wait time is still quite long for custom goods.
Get off your computer and into the stores. Local furniture companies have inventory at every price point and style. Several offer design services to assist you with items to complete your design.
Online Furniture Retailers
If you are a devoted online shopper, you’ll discover that most home furnishing companies now have a menu tab for “in stock” items that are stocked and ready to ship. Look for shipping deals.
All the major furniture retailers have outlet stores. In our area, you can find Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Serena & Lily, and others. Some companies use their returned and damaged inventory in outlets; others have overstocks, last season, and first quality items.
One of the greenest ways to acquire new furnishings is shopping at consignment stores. These stores take furniture from owners and resell it for them for a fee. Some consignment stores have new items from model homes as well. Some sell antiques and collectibles too. It’s also a great way to move out items you are no longer using!
Getting more for your money
There are better of times of year to shop for furnishings – the end of winter (January/February) and the end of summer (August/September). Presidents Day and Labor Day sales are usually the best of the year. Retailers discount their old stock to make room for new styles.
Be strategic – use your credit card rewards and shop with points programs to stretch your dollars. Don’t be afraid to join a store’s loyalty program to get insider savings and accrue dollars to spend in stores.
Originally published in the August 2022 issue of Napa Spotlight