America is facing a fridge shortage due to supply chain challenges amid COVID

October 9, 2020
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    Are you in the market for a new refrigerator? It may be more difficult to find one.

    At the beginning of the pandemic, America was running low on toilet paper, but now, there’s an increased demand on a different home necessity: appliances.

    Customers have noted long wait times on certain refrigerator models, which are backordered across the country.

    LG Electronics USA senior vice president John Taylor told TODAY Food that the entire industry is facing “unprecedented demand” due to a “variety of factors largely related to coronavirus.”

    "People are spending more time at home and we've seen a record number not just for fridges but dishwashers, washing machines and dryers. If appliances are 15-20 years old, the more people they use them, the more likely they need to be replaced."

    But it isn’t just fridges – shortages have also been seen on other home appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and some microwaves.

    It's become an unexpected demand as Taylor said people have been investing in home necessities now that the pandemic has cancelled their vacations and prevented them from going out as often as they used to. People have also been using their appliances more and over time, and now many have started breaking.

    "When you're looking at how to invest in your home, appliances are at the top of the list," he explained.

    The demand isn’t just from customers as industry-wide disruptions in the supply chain including factories and warehouses have also been a contributing factor.

    "There are supply chain challenges across the globe whether because of people not being able to work to manufacture the items or because they can't physically ship units from a warehouse," Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot told TODAY Food.

    Additionally, stores have had a tough time predicting the type of products in demand and planning for the future largely due to layoffs.

    Howard Glickman, appliance advisor at Airs Appliances in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania told the outlet that those who are looking to get a new fridge during this time have to “order and pay for them in advance.”

    “I have backorders from May that have still not come in and as a matter of fact, some expected deliveries are even now scheduled for January and February of 2021,” he added.

    Glickman emphasized that the backorders have mostly been caused by disruptions in the supply chain.

    "There's no supply chain," he said. "So if you order a fridge the manufacturers are working at 25-50 percent capacity, there's a problem," he explained. "The imports are taking forever. It's a supply chain issue."

    Glickman said that customers don’t have much of a choice other than waiting, being flexible with the brands and models they choose, or attempting to repair old appliances.

    All of this doesn’t bode well for Black Friday shopping or customers looking to score some deals.

    Due to the high demand, Glickman anticipates that there will be “fewer promotions” industry-wide.

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