Get ready to wait months, maybe even into 2022, for that new sofa to arrive at your doorstep.
The newest problem for furniture sellers is the increase in spread of Covid-19 and subsequent factory closures in a key region: Vietnam. Vietnam competes with China as a top exporter of furniture to the United States, according to the US Commerce Department. It exports everything from wooden bedroom and dining room sets to upholstered furniture, such as cushioned dining chairs, couches and ottomans.
The country is also currently in the throes of a coronavirus outbreak caused by a suspected new variant of the virus, which Vietnam’s health minister said has led to new infections in its industrial zones.
The number of daily new infections of coronavirus have risen rapidly in Vietnam since late June, with 9,765 cases reported on July 30, up sharply from 371 confirmed new cases on June 30, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.
The current surge in new infections has put pressure on the government there to increase its vaccine supply and speed up inoculations. So far only one half of 1% of Vietnam’s population has been vaccinated.
In an effort to contain the outbreak, some factories have temporarily closed.
The situation in Vietnam will further impact US furniture sellers who are already grappling with a global supply chain slowdown tied to shipping container and labor shortages, among other factors. That’s happening at the same time that demand for furniture is hotter than ever.
What this means for shoppers is that the current three to six months delay on furniture orders could drag out even longer. And for any new orders coming in at this time, you might be ringing in 2022 before you get your living room set.
With factories in Vietnam shutting down due to the outbreak, the front-end of the United State’s furniture supply chain is badly affected, said Mark Schumacher, CEO of Home Furnishings Association, an industry group representing more than 1,500 retailers.
Schumacher said many of his members have already been notified by their suppliers in Vietnam that factories have shut down for at least two weeks. “These closures will cause production to dry up and no new supply coming in. In many cases, customers who are ordering furniture now are being told it can take nine months to a year for delivery,” he said.
Even furniture that’s made in the United States is impacted, said Schumacher. “Domestically-made furniture also uses components that are imported. Those pieces are caught in these delays,” he said. “We’re caught in this cycle of disruption. Every time we take two steps forward, it’s two steps back.”
Patience is running out
While shoppers may initially have been patient, “they are starting to push back,” said David Koehler, CEO of Johnny Janosik, a Delaware-based large regional furniture chain.
“We’re being upfront with them if we don’t have a definite delivery date and tell them if it could be even longer than expected,” said Koehler. He said the longest delays could be on upholstered furniture. New orders in that category could be 24 weeks to a year out, he said.
Keith Koenig, founder and owner of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based furniture chain City Furniture is watching the situation in Vietnam closely.
His company does about $700 million in sales annually. “Vietnam is our biggest supplier,” he said.
Koenig said furniture factories that supply product for City Furniture notified him that they started to shut down last week in Vietnam. “They will be closed until at least August 4th. But this shutdown can also stretch another two to three weeks after that,” he said.
Customers are unhappy with the wait times. “We get it,” he said. “We tell them that before you decide to cancel your order, please go out and see if you can find what you want in the time frame that you want. If you can’t, and then you come back to us, you’ll unfortunately be at the bottom of the queue.”
Brian Morgan, co-owner of Austin’s Couch Potatoes, operates four stores in Texas, three in Kansas and a factory in Austin.
“We sell thousands of pieces of furniture yearly,” he said, adding that orders are typically delivered in a two to 10-week time frame. Now 75% of orders at one of his locations are taking six to eight months. “It’s kind of nutty right now. Every single day we’re hearing more bad news,” he said.
IKEA, one of the largest furniture sellers in the world, said in an email to CNN Business that the company is “aware of the very concerning situation in Vietnam.”
“Throughout the pandemic, it has created challenges and constraints in our operations. We are striving to make fast and wise decisions, providing timely support to our business partners around the world to mitigate the impact on their businesses and people, while focusing on making IKEA products available for our customers,” the company said.
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