A Message to Our Community + Customers
To our valued customers, we want to share in transparency with you the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the furniture supply chain, and the lasting effects our industry is facing for product availability and shipping.
Here at Larrabee’s, we are anxious to get back to a state of normal. For most people around the world, it’s difficult to keep grappling with how COVID continues to affect our lives, including social restrictions, limitations on almost every aspect of daily living, and ongoing lack of access to the everyday goods and services we’ve come to appreciate.
The pandemic has created serious supply chain shortages for all categories of consumer goods, including furniture. If you have been to a mall recently, you’ll see this instantly in apparel, where shelves are thin, fabrics are not what you’re used to seeing, and manufacturing quality has changed. We are posting this to assure you: the supply chain challenges we are seeing are industry-wide and they are real. We have been working around the clock to manage these disruptions with our manufacturers and to adapt to changes with our factory and shipping partners that are happening daily, and which dramatically affect our ability to get product to you. We understand these delays are frustrating. We are frustrated too—there’s nothing we want more than to get the highest quality and most beautiful furniture to you at the best prices as quickly as possible so you can enjoy it! As a Colorado-owned business for over 60 years, we will always be honest with our customers and provide realistic timelines for when your orders will be available. We will not provide an unrealistic arrival date in order to win your business and then break your trust, knowing it’s simply not possible.
So that we can work together in partnership, these are the primary variables causing extremely long order times for all furniture retailers—any one of these factors would create delays in our supply chain. Combined, they create a perfect storm of serious and unpredictable delays that is world-wide in its reach.
- National Foam Crisis. There is a national foam shortage across the country due to the winter freezes that occurred in March, which froze solid two major chemical plants that produce the majority of the country’s foam in Texas and Louisiana. Manufacturers that use foam for their products, primarily in the furnishing and automotive industries, are on strict foam allocations, causing most factories making products with foam to operate at only 30% production because of the severe limit on foam availability. This is causing labor shortages and delays in producing products, including the furniture you ordered months ago.
- International Shipping Clogs in Global Waterways. In the past year, ocean freight shipping fees from Asia to the United States have quadrupled in some cases, from approximately $1,500 per container to $6,000. There is an international shortage of shipping containers, and due to shortages in raw materials such as steel, not enough containers can be produced to meet the immense demand generated from many countries in the west conducting online ordering during COVID’s global lockdowns. In addition, shipping capacity on international freight flights is also down because flights themselves are down sharply due to pandemic-related restrictions, compounded by labor shortages in airport personnel, air traffic control and ground crews needed to support the flight process. Even when containers arrive stateside, they are stuck at ports for days, and sometimes months, due to the backlog to process them, as well as labor shortages at ports, compounded by COVID work restrictions. Within the United States, weather-related railroad disruptions and a shortage of truck drivers have only added to the scramble to get goods to consumers.
- Labor Shortages. Shutdowns of factories at the onset of the pandemic caused an initial round of delays, which were compounded by a slow return to production as companies navigated new safety protocols. More than one year later, many major manufacturers still aren’t staffed at pre-pandemic capacity, which makes it much harder to catch up on the backlog of orders, and companies have had to re-tool manufacturing lines and re-work shift schedules to accommodate social distancing to keep workers safe—something we value and appreciate. Every time an employee tests positive for COVID, many more workers with whom they came into contact are sent home to quarantine, which only exacerbates the delays in production.
- Price Increases. The aforementioned crises have resulted in skyrocketing price increases in every category:
- Materials (foam, lumber, steel, fiber, plastic, cardboard, mechanisms, etc.) have increased up to 200%.
- Freight and shipping fees have increased up to 375%.
- Manufacturers simply cannot afford to absorb these price increases on their own, so they are passing these increases to the retailers, and, ultimately, the consumers (we can see this in the price of lumber at our local hardware store).
- All these factors are impacting lead times from our manufacturers.
- At this time, new orders are taking anywhere from 6 – 10 months or more to arrive to us at Larrabee’s. This is far longer than what you experienced with us pre-pandemic, but it is our new reality.
We understand this is disappointing and it’s frustrating. We want to be your retailer of choice and help you create the spaces and homes of your dreams. Because we deeply value you as our customer, it’s critical we share with you what’s happening so that we can work together on realistic timelines. We are in this with you and have been from the beginning. More than anything, we truly appreciate your business and your patience and we know one day we will emerge on the other side of this crisis. We also thank you for demonstrating patience and compassion with our staff who have been working day and night to serve our community and do everything possible to deliver a great experience with honesty and integrity which is our continued commitment to you.