Navigating interior design over the past year has been interesting, to say the least. Dealing with irregular supply chain issues for materials, weathering ice storms (no pun intended) and wondering if scheduled staffing at our manufacturers will ever be at full capacity again are all part of our everyday world now. For 13 years, I’ve run a fairly predictable business and boy, has this past year thrown the biggest curve ball I’ve ever witnessed.
Here’s the comforting fact: almost every industry has been impacted. So at least the shock of these ridiculously long delays is allowing us to commiserate with each other and be understanding of how hard folks are trying to mitigate these speedbumps. More so, it’s prompted some of us to seek creative solutions wherever possible in the interest of serving our customers as best as we can. Seriously, if you told me last year that I’d be telling someone they’d be waiting 20-26 weeks for their sofa, I would’ve said, “No way! It’ll never get that bad.” But, here we are…what used to take 6-8 weeks, now is taking half a year to deliver to customers.
So what’s really behind the delays…
The Covid Aftereffects:
We’re all sick of this being an excuse for things to not go well, but unfortunately, it’s true. Beginning late last spring, most furniture manufacturers were forced to close temporarily, then reduce headcounts at plants, spread out workers for safe distancing, and manage the shortfall of those unable to work due to illness or exposure. Therefore, production time doubled and sometimes tripled almost immediately. Luckily, a lot of this ended in late summer, but catching up to capacity still remains challenging due to the tremendous backlog of orders created.
The Foam Shortage:
In February, our gulf coast winter storms annihilated the plants that make foam, supplying most of the nation. If they weren’t totally decimated, they were damaged to the point of short-term closure, needing major repairs. This affected upholstered items such as furniture, automobile seats, and many other foam-dependent products.
The Container Debacle:
Now if you didn’t already think you’ve been told a tall tale, wait for this one… Containers are in high demand as fewer are going back and forth across the water, and the prices for these have multiplied 5-10x! Manufacturers can no longer absorb the surcharges and are now passing them along to us, the dealers, or consolidating and delaying shipments. Therefore, prices have increased in recent months to cover these transportation costs. You will see this ripple across many industries as well.
The Port Congestion:
So, the containers finally make it across the pond to the US coasts and are literally “circling around, floating” just waiting for a port to open so it can be unloaded. This has been taking weeks due to a shortage of workers being present to do the work. As these containers sit, they’re not returning back east to pick up more items, which further exacerbates the shortage mentioned above, propelling higher demand and higher costs. Anyone see a circular reference here??
The Domestic Trucking Status:
When the goods finally make it through ports and/or are fabricated in North Carolina and then are ready to be picked up to head to Dallas,a typical 7-10 day timeline. Once again, they are short on workers, so trucks aren’t driving as often, and once they make it from NC to a Dallas hub, it is taking up to 2 weeks to get unloaded.
After over a year and a half of these issues, the backlog is the biggest current challenge.
What are we doing about it?
I can assure you that we are taking creative measures wherever possible to source furnishings from the most responsive vendors. We check on your orders weekly, if not daily, and are in constant negotiations for better delivery times. We are communicating to you as we receive reliable updates. We are making multiple deliveries to our customers where it makes sense so we don’t hold up all of your furnishings due to some pieces being delayed. All of these things cost Nicole Arnold Interiors time and money beyond what’s normal, but YOU are important enough to us to go to extra measures to ensure we keep the excitement in your new home and office projects. We are committed to delivering an amazing experience and welcome any questions you may have during this period of uncertainty.
I truly believe we will get through this together!!