Appliance biz struggling to meet pandemic demand, says Winnipeg retailer

In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo a worker pushes a cart past refrigerators at a Home Depot store. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for a number of local industries, but one currently struggling with pandemic-related shortages might surprise you.

John Salgueiro of Winnipeg’s JS Furniture Gallery told 680 CJOB it’s an interesting time — to say the least — when it comes to selling appliances.

“It’s a perfect storm, what’s happened through the COVID effects,” Salgueiro said. “With the factories closing for a while, staffing problems — they’re not working at full capacity, and the parts supply is a mess.”

Salgueiro said issues on the factory end are a combination of many factors, which add up to consumers not necessarily getting the items they want — or anything at all.

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“For example, you might order a washer and dryer, and you might get a washer and not the dryer, or vice-versa. It’s quite interesting.”

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“It’s a bit of a nightmare for us. For example, we’re receiving appliances we bought in June,” he said.

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“Normally you get them within 10 days, and now it’s months, and you just don’t know how many you’re going to get.

“If you ordered 20, if you’re lucky, you’ll get five or six … and hopefully you didn’t sell 20, because people will have to wait.”

Salgueiro said there’s been an increase in demand on items like fridges, for example, as more people are eating at home due to the pandemic, and they need more storage space for their groceries.

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“Everybody’s buying more food. They’re eating at home, so they’re buying an extra fridge for the basement or the garage or wherever.

“If anybody’s looking, they’d better look ahead and be patient.”

The empty-shelf problem may last a while longer, according to an expert.

Laurie Tannous, special advisor at the University of Windsor’s Cross Border Institute and vice-president of government relations at Farrow, a customs broker and trade compliance firm, told Global News in September that more shortages are expected.

“Temporary shortages are to be expected despite the fact that supply chains have been and continue to be working in overdrive,” Tannous said.

“We are still seeing some of the same trends we did at the outset of the pandemic.”


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