Appliance Shortages Remain a Common Headache

Nearly 90% of home builders say they’re struggling to get their appliance orders fulfilled.

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Homeowners have been rushing to remodel and build as well as wash during the pandemic. That has taken a toll on appliance availability. Washers and dryers, refrigerators, and many other household appliances are in high demand and short supply.

Nearly 90% of home builders are reporting having trouble getting appliances for their new homes, according to a February survey from the National Association of Home Builders. Of those, 51% described their difficulty as a “major extent” and 38% reported it as a “minor extent.”

Some builders say their appliances are on back order for months. Many new homes come with standard kitchen appliances. As such, builders are having the most difficulty getting refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, and some combinations of range, cooktop, or wall ovens.

“In some cases, a builder may be able to sell a house without all appliances, leaving it to the ultimate homeowner to supply one or more of them,” according to the NAHB’s Eye on Housing blog. “This is not always practical, however—depending on the type of house and appliance.”

The appliance shortage began last March soon after the pandemic ignited across the U.S. Households began stocking up on goods and were in need of extra refrigerators and freezers; more households attuned to germs were washing clothes more; and appliances overall were getting more use as more people remained at home. Appliances began to break and were in need of replacement, and homeowners sought to upgrade their current models as well. Remodeling also took off, leading to more demand for appliances.

Meanwhile, appliance manufacturers faced delays in getting supply out. They didn’t foresee the huge demand. Also, many key component-making factories in China were shut down to the pandemic in 2020. Appliance manufacturers are still trying to keep up.

Appliance shortages are popping up regardless of price point, whether $800 or $8,000, and across brands. The wait could stretch over weeks to fulfill an order, which has prompted delays for remodelers and builders.

“Our backlog is still at the level it was at the end of the third quarter (of 2020),” Whirlpool CFO Jim Peters told Yahoo! Finance Live. “We have been able to ramp up production to keep in line where the current demand levels are. We expect to work through most of the backlog by the end of the second quarter.”

Peters described the reasons behind the surging demand: “Some of the drivers we are seeing are the positive growth within housing, not just new-home construction but also you are seeing strong existing home sales. Then, with consumers’ continued focus on the home and nesting, what we are seeing is more home renovation where people are investing in their kitchens that they have been spending more time in. We continue to see that trend gaining steam.”

Source: “Nearly 90% of Builders Have Trouble Getting Appliances,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (March 8, 2021) and “Are Home Appliance Shortages Nearing the End?” Yahoo! Finance Live (Jan. 28, 2021)