Major Appliance Shortages Challenge Retailers, Shoppers

appliance, major appliances
Photo: Best Buy

Retailers across the nation continue to advertise sales on major appliances, but supplies of some items appear to be limited leading to extended wait times for consumers.

Throughout late August and into September, a number of media outlets have reported on the challenges many stores are facing with product availability.

For example, in an August 30 report in the New York Post, John Carey, owner of Designer Appliances in New Jersey said the retailer is spending half the amount of advertising when compared to the same time last year.

“If the manufacturers know they can’t fulfill the orders, there is less incentive to try to drive sales at the dealers,” he told the Post.

Leading manufacturers have been mum on inventory levels, which took a hit this spring when factories were forced to close or slow production levels because of COVID-19. More recently, some suppliers have been operating plants at less than full capacity.

A spokesperson for KitchenAid told Kitchenware Today that the company does not publicly discuss inventory levels. A GE spokesperson also declined to comment and referred questions to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

The most recent figures from AHAM for 2020 dated June 27 show a 6.9% decrease year-to-date in major appliances shipments when compared to the same time frame in 2019. Annual shipments of cooking appliances are off 6.2% while food preservation items that include refrigerators and freezers are down less than 1% as of late June.

While the year as a whole has been challenging, there has been some improvement for major appliance shipments. Monthly sales figures from AHAM for June for the category as a whole improved 5.1% over 2019. 

However, it was a mixed bag in key kitchen categories. Cooking appliance shipments jumped 8.9% in June while the food preservation segment was down 4.1%.

There is also the potential that GE could be facing a work stoppage at its Appliance Park in Kentucky. The Courier-Journal reported that the 3,800-member union overwhelming approved a strike authorization. Although a strike is not imminent, the current contract expires on September 6.

What They’re Saying: Media Reports About Appliance Shortages

Pandemic Causes Shortages of Major Appliances 
Connecticut’s WFSB reported that locally owned stores such as Keith’s Appliances in Norwich said it’s been frustrating because of the shortages they, like big box stores, can’t guarantee delivery dates. Jessica Burzcyki, owner of Keith’s said the store gets calls from across the country from people looking for freezers. 

Experts Say COVID-19 Causing Appliance Shortages
Amarillo, Texas-based KVII spoke with David Reinbold, general manager of Circle N Appliance, who said not enough product is available, and it began in April with freezers and now also includes stoves and other major appliances.

Local Appliance Stores Have Plenty Of Demand, But Not Much Stock
The Herald News in Fall River, Massachusetts, reported that demand for products has been strong, but supply levels are falling short. “Demand has been just enormous and supply is down, and that’s not a good combination,” said Leah MacLeod, owner of Iz Schwartz Appliance in Somerset.

Nationwide Appliance Shortages Leave Customers On Long Wait Lists
Detroit’s WXYZ noted that retailers in and around the city are facing shortages of major appliance inventories. Ken Gross, president of Specialties Showroom in Berkley, Michigan, said, “We can usually get things in a week and now it might be three to five weeks.”