Covid restrictions are beginning to ease across the country but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to appliance shop like normal just yet. If you’ve had an appliance give up the ghost or are looking for a new machine, you might find yourself faced with lengthy wait times for repairs and even longer backorder queues for the appliance you want. Similarly, backorders for repair parts are lengthy as industry delays have reached a 20 plus year high. Some products, especially the higher end stuff can take three to four months to arrive, sometimes more. This is proving to be very frustrating for anyone who needs an appliance if something breaks or if they’re trying to furnish a recent home purchase.
Why is it so hard to get new appliances?
There are various influencing factors at play, some of which are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and others that exist even during normal times. For starters, we’re spending greater amounts of time at home, meaning our appliances have been pulling extra duty. That in turn leads to more break downs and an increased want or need to upgrade to more capable machines. On top of that, the amount of people buying and building homes has also spiked fueling unprecedented demand for refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, stoves and other necessary household appliances.
The problem is compounded by manufacturers who for years have maintained trimmed down inventories to remain profitable and are now unprepared for the influx of demand and unable to keep up. There is also the issue of workplace and production slow downs due to Covid safety protocols.
Then there’s the well documented global shortage of computer chips which almost all appliances these days require. Ocean freight slowdowns are further hampering appliance deliveries, meaning even though appliances are being produced, getting them shipped overseas is a logistical nightmare. Clogged ports and severe shipping container shortages are causing massive import delays that add months to expected delivery times.
Getting appliances repaired isn’t much easier
The average wait time for an appliance repair technician is hovering around 10 days give or take. There have been manpower reductions due to Covid and everything repair related (like house calls) takes longer. Demand for technicians is also way up due to the extra use appliances are getting and the inability for people to purchase new machines. Even once a technician shows up and checks out an appliance, there could still be an extended wait for parts.
It’s a tough time to have an appliance break or to need a new one and it will likely be that way for while longer. We’re slowly getting back to normal but the backlog will take some time to clear. If you need new appliances, there’s really only one thing you can do – shop, shop and shop! There’s lots of places to check and hopefully you’ll find something.
What to do if an appliance stops working
It’s totally frustrating and annoying when an appliance you rely on each day stops working. Not only does another chore (or more) pile up on your plate, but you now have to figure out whether to have it repaired or if buying a new unit makes more sense. To make your decision a bit easier, we sat down with our team of home repair experts and created this roadmap to help guide you towards a successful solution.
Do you need a new appliance right now?
If you don’t have time to wait, or the appliance in question is vital to your household, (like a gas furnace, water heater or a refrigerator) these are some the options you’ll have to choose from:
Visit the big-box retailers: The first place to start looking for a new machine is at the biggest stores in town. This could be retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, The Brick etc. – the bigger the better for the best selection and largest inventory. Checking online and use the filter options to refine product searches by what’s in stock locally and what’s available for delivery can really speed up the process of finding what you’re after. Try looking outside of your area as well because a couple hours drive or choosing delivery can make a big difference to availability.
Shop independent dealers: You’ve already tried the big box stores and struck out, so now it’s time to search out smaller independent dealers. These are more likely to carry older models and might have been overlooked by other shoppers. Remember to ask for a price match if you’ve found a better deal elsewhere, and inquire about a loaner or rental unit if you have to wait for a new one.
Look for local used options: Hit up sites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace and see if you can find a working, used condition replacement in your area. It may not be the newest or fanciest but it might be able to do the job and get you through in a pinch.
Are you able to wait for a replacement?
You’ll have more options and a lot less stress if the appliance in question isn’t vital and you’re able to wait a bit to get it replaced. Sometimes it’s better to wash dishes by hand for a while instead of panic buying a unit that isn’t an ideal fit.
Here’s what you can do to find a replacement appliance:
Get on a waiting list: Dealers and retailers are always getting new stock, but the problem is it sells out almost immediately. Putting your name on a waiting list means you’ll be next in line for the perfect new dishwasher when new stock arrives.
Go online and sign up for restock alerts: Visit all the online appliance stores, including the big-box stores mentioned above and find the appliance you want. Then check the product page for a “Notify me” option you can use to get notified when you’re choice of appliance is back in stock.
Don’t hold out for a better deal: Right now supplies are low almost everywhere. This means there is very little incentive for retailers to lower their prices, at least in the short term. Passing up the appliance you want in order to maybe save a few bucks can easily leave you empty handed staring at a “Sold Out” notification.
When will things get back to normal in the appliance world?
There’s a lot of things that will have to be fixed or return to normal before supply will increase. David MacGregor, a Longbow Research appliance industry analyst in Cleveland speculates that the current availability issues will extend through the end of 2021 at a minimum, but it could be longer than that.
When will appliance inventories return to normal? It’s tough to call but we will say – Not Soon Enough!