When a new home is built or a family moves into an existing home, consumers often turn to furniture for storage and decor. It’s an easy way to make a room feel like it’s lived in and filled with love. But the demand for furnishings is so high that it’s putting an incredible strain on manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.
The COVID pandemic has made people more interested in home decor than ever before, and that’s a good thing for the furniture industry, but it also means fewer resources are available for production. In particular, the outbreak has affected raw materials used to make furniture.
For one, it’s made lumber prices skyrocket, causing retailers to increase their pricing. That’s a problem for many smaller businesses, because they simply can’t afford these increases.
Another factor has been a shortage of foam, which is a material that’s essential for cushioning and support in upholstered pieces. A lack of it meant that furniture stores couldn’t keep up with their orders, which caused a serious backlog.
Some stores adapted to the situation, finding suppliers with stock that could be delivered quickly. Others started offering discounts and other deals.
But those tactics haven’t helped alleviate the problem. Retailers are still having to compete with lower-cost furniture that’s more easily available from other sources, which is resulting in higher prices for everything from sofas and accent pillows to headboards and dining tables.
According to a report by CBS Sunday Morning, this supply shortage isn’t just an issue for big-name retailers like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware RH, -0.13% — it’s impacting all types of stores. And because of the backlog, some companies are laying off workers, even as they ramp up production.
The furniture industry has struggled with labor issues for years, but it has become particularly challenging this past year. Some companies are turning to temporary workers or contracting with contractors. Manufacturers are also boosting on-the-job training, in an effort to retain and develop talent as workers age out of the workforce or retire.
In an effort to stay competitive, manufacturers are introducing new technologies that enable them to boost their operational efficiency. Digital technology allows them to track inventory and fulfil last minute orders without compromising delivery time.
They’re also using robots to make quick work of assembly. This can help prevent delays and restocking fees, which can add up.
Some retailers are also focusing on making their products more eco-friendly. Some are experimenting with wood-based, sustainable materials, while others are developing more sustainable designs that use fewer fossil fuels and other environmental factors in their production.
Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that there is a huge market for quality home furnishings. As the housing market continues to roar and people continue to move into larger homes, demand for new furniture will only grow.