What Is Going On?
Even minimalists hope to receive SOME furnishings within weeks of moving in. We promise we are doing our best to help! We are fielding questions daily from our clients and friends. Collectively shared circumstances have prompted us to provide some answers and insight for “what to expect when you’re expecting” … furniture, or remodeling/building.
- COVID– We are all sick of hearing this one, right?! However, it is true. The ripple affect has been far reaching and the waters have not stilled. Factories are still experiencing shutdowns, staff and work hours were reduced and are still trying to recapture the former pace. Even as the labor force started returning to work manufacturers found themselves in a staffing crisis. Much like restaurants they are short staffed and offering higher wages to keep their MVPs, their employees.
- Shipping & Freight– Several conditions have prompted shipping challenges, but the primary cause is a combination of soaring consumer demand (creating mountains of freight at ports) and warehouses with not enough manpower to move it. On top of this, did you know we have a shortage of truck drivers in the US? As a result, a sofa can be picked up in North Carolina in July and not arrive at our warehouse until September. To exacerbate the problem, in March there was a cargo ship blocking the Suez Canal and billions of goods were stalled causing more extreme and compounded delays at ports.
- The Texas Freeze– Remember “snowpocalypse” in February in Texas? While Austinites enjoyed skiing our hills & sleepovers with neighbors, a chemical plant on the Gulf Coast froze. This plant is responsible for supplying widespread industries with ingredients for foam. Their shut down affected everything from spray foam installation to cushions for upholstery, mattresses and more. Any furniture item that had a cushion and was not already built went from a 6–10-week timeline to a 25-week timeline. The factory is up and running again, catching up on a huge backlog of orders.
- Consumer Demand– Add to all this unprecedented demand for Home Improvement and furnishings and you have a recipe for long lead times in a nation conditioned for instant gratification. Industry experts predict that catching up on the backlog of orders and getting back to pre-COVID lead times will likely take until late 2022.
- Damages– And on top of everything, when items do arrive they more frequently arrive damaged. Because shipping companies had to quickly hire more employees to keep up with the demand; there are a lot of inexperienced drivers out there mishandling deliveries. Jam packed trucks and flimsy care lead to more damages than usual. More damages means more waiting as we have to repair, order new parts, or have items replaced entirely.
What Can I Do?
All of us are learning to adjust our expectations.
- We recommend planning, patience, and flexibility. Custom upholstery items such as sofas are taking up to 25 weeks to manufacture and ship, meaning if you want a particular frame, in the stain resistant fabric that you love, be prepared to wait. Ready-made items are available in a shorter lead time if you are flexible with more limited options. There is a similar situation with long lead times on plumbing, tile, and other building materials. It is not unusual to have re-selections to get a project to the finish line. If you want to update/refresh your furnishings keep the existing ones you have until the new arrives. We offer haul off service as part of our installation if desired.
- If you are remodeling or building, start putting your team together months in advance. Most builders, architects and designers are booked in the short term, start reaching out to get on their calendars in advance. Plan at least a 6-month buffer for getting started, and longer if you must go through the permitting process. Be prepared for budget adjustments and selection changes due to price increases and product shortages.
Remember, good things come to those who wait! It may be painful, but you will get to the end and will love your new space when you do.
Hopefully a lesson we are all learning, is to face these challenges with patience and grace. The frustrations of our product and project delays pale in comparison to challenges others are facing in the world. Our team at Ice I.D. is learning to accept these delays as part of the process. We cannot control the factors that are causing the delays, but we have learned to pivot and adjust as needed. We strive for open communication with our clients to keep them informed and offer solutions when we can. As a full-service design firm with our own receiving facility that handles multiple furnishing projects, we can handle the hassles, so you don’t have to. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we all work toward the goal of making your home your haven.