Home Buyers Face Another Shortage: Appliances

A manufacturing slowdown means consumers may be waiting months for new washing machines, refrigerators, and other household must-haves.

Dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and other household appliances are low in stock nationwide, and some consumers are waiting months for their orders to be fulfilled. The backup is yet another problem you can blame on the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, as consumers started hoarding food, there was a rush on freezers. “We sold more freezers in two days than we did all last year,” Steve Sheinkopf of Boston-area Yale Appliance told NPR. “People were storing stuff because we thought this was the end of times. We needed food.”

Factories began scaling back production during the initial stages of the pandemic for employee safety and a belief that rising unemployment would lead to lower consumer demand. But demand for appliances has surged, while shipments of major appliances fell 7% year to date in June, NPR reports.

The surge in demand is due to people sheltering at home and using their appliances more, leading to breakdowns from overuse. Many homeowners also are seeking appliance upgrades. Now that the housing market is recovering quickly, there’s added pressure on appliance demand as consumers move to new homes.

Appliance manufacturers are warning of backlogs on several brands and models through the end of the year—and possibly even into 2021, NPR reports. “I have never experienced a year where there were shortages like we’ve seen this year,” Sandy Tau, owner of Long Island, N.Y.-based AHC Appliances, told NPR. “We have freezers that are on back order since the end of March that have still not come in.”

Source: “Why It’s So Hard to Buy a New Refrigerator These Days,” NPR (Sept. 22, 2020)