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‘Get your order in’: Customers could wait longer for home appliances amid supply chain disruption

Click to play video: 'Delivery delays for appliance orders' Delivery delays for appliance orders
Delivery delays for appliance orders – Oct 21, 2020

For Canadians putting off buying or repairing a home appliance, the wait could get even longer.

Retailers across the country are experiencing extended delivery delays on new orders, stemming from a global supply chain disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some fridges right now are two to six months away, some are four to eight months away,” said Jeff Sastaunik, general manager of Coast Appliances in Regina.

“The best advice I can give you is get your order in.”

Read more: Appliance biz struggling to meet pandemic demand, says Winnipeg retailer

While some delivery waits have shifted from weeks to months, Sastaunik said certain makes and models of appliances could be even longer.

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“Right now, some of the manufacturers are telling us it’s going to be up to two years before they have product in the barn to ship,” he said.

“Whirlpool, for instance, has some fridges where 8,000 to 12,000 fridges have to be made before they catch up to just present day orders. So it’s going to be a while yet.”

The general manager said his store was proactive at the start of the pandemic, bringing in additional inventory across a number of brands.

“It might not be the exact make and model that you want, but we do have lots of fridges, freezers, washers,” he said.

While the pandemic has disrupted supply chains, it also brought demand from consumers looking to upgrade appliances while working and learning from home.

Sastaunik said freezers were a hot item as families looked for more pandemic food storage.

Read more: Masks, sanitizing and vetting: How coronavirus changed home and auto repairs

“The last six months have been some of the best months we’ve had in the last five or six years,” he said.

Jason Childs, an economics professor at the University of Regina, said supply chains for component-heavy products like appliances run through dozens of countries and that any interruption at one stage can mean a greater backlog.

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“You don’t just have one bottleneck, you can have dozens or more,” Childs said.

“We’ve got everything from manufacturing being shut down to problems in transporting the goods or the intermediate goods.”

Childs said the supply chains are also very lean right now, meaning there isn’t a lot of inventory on hand at any one stage.

“One of the resolutions I think we’re going to see out of this is companies are going to take bigger inventories, and bigger inventories come with cost,” he said.

“So I think there is going to be significant inflationary pressure that comes out of this supply chain interruption as firms start taking on and holding more inventory to protect themselves.”

Read more: Working from home during coronavirus? Some expenses are up to employers, experts say

The supply chain disruption is also having an effect on service companies, which rely on wholesalers and manufacturers.

Ken Andreen, the owner and general manager of Shaughnessy Appliance Service Ltd., said his company has been busy since the start of the pandemic, with technicians currently handling between 130 to 150 calls a day.

He told Global News that in the last month, service providers in North America have noticed slight declines in parts supply due to backlogs out of their control.

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“For the most part, we do receive our parts overnight,” he said. “There are some cases where parts aren’t available from the wholesaler or the manufacturer and it does take four to five business days.”

He said people should request repairs as soon as possible to ensure parts are ordered quickly, and ahead of potentially longer waits.

Additionally, he urged customers to research their service options ahead of time, as some companies listed online have cropped up during the pandemic to seize on demand.

“If you are trying to choose a service provider, choose somebody who has been around a while and is actually a physical, viable business … make sure you’ve got somebody that’s there for you,” he said.

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