Beating the Supply Chain Blues
November 9, 2021
Alabama homeowners are finding they are in the same boat with businesses and consumers across the country in dealing with supply chain issues. From extended delivery times for furniture and décor to long waits for new appliances and repair parts, homeowners may have money in hand to buy or renovate but fewer places to spend.
Long taken for granted, the global supply chain is bearing the blame for the ability of manufacturers, resellers and service providers to deliver products or services. HomeAdvisor.com cites factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic to the recent blockage of the Suez Canal in slowing down product availability and increasing prices. Those conditions, coupled with increased demand, exposed supply chain weak links. While it’s tempting to focus on the causes, here are a few ideas for beating the supply chair blues.
Shop Local & Early
In general, a wide array of products – including Christmas gifts and household supplies – may be harder to find until supply chain issues are resolved. Business Insider says experts suggest shopping early, buying from local retailers and even checking thrift stores as a solution. Local retailers include nearby chain stores where you can select from items in stock and available for pick up. Buying local also means, as much as possible, buying American-made goods where supply chain pressure has less impact. If you must order online, Business Insider recommends including multiple items in one shipment to diminish pressure on delivery services – especially as the holidays draw near. “Most of all,” the experts said, “don't panic-buy goods and try to be patient.”
Home renovation projects are challenging under the best of circumstances, but Steve Cunningham, incoming chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers, told Forbes Advisor that homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens are finding long waits for appliances manufactured overseas or made with overseas components. He suggests being flexible and choosing more than one appliance that could work instead of insisting on one brand or model. He recommended also looking into used opens, or “scratch and dent.” These are new items that may have a small blemish but still work, or were returned but are now discontinued and can’t be sold at full price.
Buying furniture can be especially frustrating if you’re trying to decorate around a time-sensitive event such as a holiday or new baby. While many large retailers are unwilling to sell floor samples, locally-owned shops are more likely to part with a nursery chair or sofa that’s been taking up floor space for months. Forbes Advisor says that some Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations offer new furniture donated by retailers. Also, check social media marketplaces for new and gently-used pieces that could work. Last, but not least, look for local artisans who craft one-of-a-kind tables, chairs, and accent pieces.
The pandemic forced more people to spend time at home looking at their decorating choices and, as a result, many are looking to update beginning with new paint. Realtor.com says two years of hurricanes and a severe February cold snap that crippled Texas and Louisiana power suppliers seriously damaged chemical processing plants that manufacture key ingredients of both interior and exterior house paints as well as foam for furniture. Reduced capacity, coupled with increased demand, equals limited supplies of your dream color. Again, flexibility is the key. Many of the large home improvement stores have supplies of paint that were mixed by mistake and may be perfect for your space.
Plan & Be Realistic
Contractors and service providers want nothing more than to deliver products and services in a timely manner. But supply shortages and high demand affect their ability to acquire and install everything from lumber and tile to windows and doors. Be prepared to accept and work with their realistic time frames for delivery and installation. In some cases, be prepared for contractors to pass along the higher prices they are paying to get materials from the manufacturer to the job site.
Contractors, tired of explaining delays, now advise clients to select and purchase all of the materials and fixtures ahead of time. By ordering materials and furnishings as early as possible, even if they have to sit in a warehouse or garage, you have a better chance of keeping a project on schedule and on budget.
You will likely also need an abundance of planning skills and patience. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said recently that Americans should be prepared for the global supply chain to remain in crisis through 2022. Realistic expectations, flexibility on product selections and a sharp eye for price trends will help you cope with kinks in the global supply chain.