More Americans aren’t just sanitizing their hands these days, they’re giving their dishes and clothing extra thorough cleanings as well.
A survey by GE Appliances has found “dishwashers are being run more frequently during the pandemic, and use of sanitization or high wash temperature cycles are up more than 50 percent; washer and dryer use is up 25 percent, and the sanitization cycle on washers is up 85 percent.”
Families are also cooking and freezing more stockpiled food, and since many people are now working out of their houses, using their air ventilation equipment more.as well.
All this staying at home sweet home has created a booming business for both the appliance and HVAC industries. Yet the demand for new equipment is far exceeding the supply that manufacturers here and abroad can produce during the COVID crisis. This has led to long delays for deliveries to customers.
“Our merchandising and supply chain teams are working hard to replenish in-demand items as quickly as possible,” said Christina Cornell, a spokeswoman for Home Depot.
‘We shouldn’t have to beg’: Americans struggle without unemployment aid as Congress stalls on extending benefits
New to the menu: McDonald’s rolling out Spicy Chicken McNuggets on September 16
Jules Ciamaichelo of Robert Stevens Appliances, with stores in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, has sold kitchen and laundry appliances for decades — but never in a pandemic.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in the 52 years we’ve been in business,” he said about the shortage of new appliances and parts needed for service calls now.
The problem isn’t just affecting homeowners. Some builders, Ciamaichelo said, are switching the line of appliances they are installing in new homes because of the shortages.
At Bill Vandegrift Appliances in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, manager Lindsay Vandegrift said she’s preordering merchandise “to have some sort of stock” when people come to the store in desperate need of a new refrigerator or washer because their appliance isn’t working..
Shortages are “across the board,” she said. “We’re telling people at least October” for when a specific new appliance may be in stock. “If it comes in earlier, they’re excited.”
“Factories are operating at reduced capacity. It’s going to take at least to the end of the year” to get the economy truly moving again, Ciamaichelo said.
The shortages are especially tough on those who need refrigerators or freezers, he said, because many compressors are made in Asia or Brazil, and some American appliance manufacturers are dependent on these imported parts.
The smaller, independent appliance retailers have more maneuverability to deal with the crisis, Ciamaichelo said, because they don’t have major contracts in place that some big box stores do with specific manufacturers. They can call up another dealer more easily if one brand is having a production problem.
Sales people at big box stores refer clients with emergency needs to the Stevens stores, he said. “They’ve been sending customers to us,” he said.
GE Appliance spokeswoman Wendy Treinen said its 750-acre appliance manufacturing complex in Louisville, Kentucky, was only shut down for one week this spring to provide protection for employees when the pandemic first started, but the production lines have been slowed as employee safety became a top priority.
Meanwhile, demand jumped.
“GEA has seen record demand on certain product categories since COVID-19 began…Freezer sales outpaced supply starting in March as consumers stockpiled goods and demand remains at an unprecedented level. Usage of appliances is higher than ever before,” she said. “Additional interest in remodeling and home improvements has sparked orders as well.
“Our supply chain is working and we have continued to produce, distribute, deliver and service appliances as an essential business during this time,.” Treinen said. The corporation is hiring 260 extra full-time and another 150 part-time workers.
Sandra Reid, who manages the Robert Stevens store in Bensalem, said anyone shopping for an appliance should be sure to have their space measurements with them. If they can get the item they need quickly, they will want to make sure it’s the right size for their room and can fit through their entrance way. And if they’re planning to remodel their kitchen or laundry room, allow time for the package of appliances to be delivered.
“Get all your measurements and we will try to get it all together for you,” she said.
Christian Heating and Air Conditioning Service Manager Dan Peppelman advises customers who may have older HVAC equipment to be proactive and get it serviced or tuned up now before the cold weather sets in so that they won’t face a crisis if their heater stops working on a wintry day and new equipment or a special part isn’t readily available.
He said the Upper Southampton business has been ordering parts sooner than normal to have them in stock.
At Ray Litwin Heating and Air Conditioning in Bristol Township, there was a run on air purifiers, but the stock has been replenished.
“There is a definite disruption in the supply,” Litwin office manager Judy Dacey said about new HVAC units. “Our distributor has been really great at keeping us updated as to when supplies are coming in.”
If they can, customers should “try to have patience,” Dacey said. Service personnel have been affected by the pandemic too. “We’re doing the best we can,” she said.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/08/25/appliances-parts-facing-shortages-amid-covid-19-pandemic/5632416002/