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Buying furniture during the pandemic requires a lot of patience

Delivery times are growing because of shortages and supply chain issues

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Photo (c) Prostock-Studio - Getty Images
Cars and trucks are not the only things in short supply in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As consumers who have shopped for furniture lately will know, delays in receiving a new couch or sectional are getting longer.

That may seem surprising because showrooms at furniture stores seem to be full of merchandise. However, most stores don’t sell their floor samples. They take your order and send it to the factory or importer.

That’s where the delays begin. Supply chain issues that developed during the pandemic still haven’t been straightened out. The backup doesn’t just affect the shipment of the finished product; it also affects the materials that go into making the furniture.

USA Today reports that there is a shortage of foam. The shortage reportedly began early this year when a major winter storm shut down all five U.S. foam-producing plants – four in Texas and one in Louisiana. Since foam is a major component in most couches, fewer of them are rolling off the assembly line, creating major delays. Keelin, of Nashville, Tenn., discovered that when he purchased a sofa at Crate and Barrel

“We ultimately decided to go with the lounge sofa in a stock fabric because they told us it was in stock and would only be three to four weeks to deliver and the other companies told us it would be more likely 10 weeks,” Keelin wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post.  “We are at three months and still don't have our couch that was ‘in stock with stock fabric.’" 

Universal problems

All major furniture retailers are dealing with the same set of problems. One national retailer advertises a sofa on its website with an estimated delivery window of “22 to 24 months.” According to Fortune, La-Z-Boy delivery times are estimated to be five to nine months.

Another reason for the shortages and shipping delays is a significant increase in demand. Consumers began buying new furniture last year when they began spending so much time at home. That buying trend has continued even though vaccinations have allowed for a return to a more normal life.

Because of the shortages at retail furniture stores, a growing number of consumers are turning to consignment and second-hand stores. But even these stores are having trouble keeping sofas and chairs in stock.

"Anything for the outdoors is super popular and has been for a while," said Natalie Angelillo, vice president of community and communications at OfferUp, a second-hand shopping app.

Angelillo told KING-TV in Seattle that seasonal demand for patio furniture may be traced back to restaurants that were limited to outdoor seating last year. She says many of these businesses purchased large quantities of available inventory that haven’t been replaced.

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