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Supply chain woes trouble furniture suppliers

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | August 8, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — So the refrigerator or washer died, or the family moved and sold the old couch. It shouldn’t be a problem to get a new couch, or a new washer, right?

Well. The supply and demand issues plaguing other industries have come for the furniture industry, too.

Wendy Cox, general manager at The Home Center in Moses Lake, said there’s a selection for buyers looking for a couch or chairs to take home immediately. But the options available to customers have changed, since the supply chain is uncertain.

“It (product availability) just fluctuates,” Cox said.

Matt Moore, co-owner of Moore Furniture in Ephrata, also said the customer who’s buying immediately has a selection. But people who want a couch in a different color than what’s on display, or who want something custom made, will have to wait.

Cox said the current estimated delivery time for a custom furniture order is about 38 weeks. A buyer who wants a mass-produced couch or chair will have to wait about two months, Moore said, and a custom order will take about 10 months.

Moore said the furniture industry faces the same challenges as other industries, such as tangled supply chains and a shortage of workers. The furniture industry also faces hurdles in transportation.

The disruptions have pinched supply just as people are looking to buy.

“A huge surge in demand,” Moore said.

Moore also sells appliances, and he’s had calls from people in Spokane and Tri-Cities looking for a new refrigerator or washer. Current appliance orders are taking three to six months to be filled, he said.

Like a lot of other industries, furniture manufacturers are having a hard time getting raw materials, like lumber.

Moore cited the foam used in furniture as an example of the larger challenges. Most foam used in domestically produced furniture is manufactured in Texas. Along with the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Texas suffered from severe winter weather that cut production for two to three weeks.

Once it’s made, the foam has to get to the manufacturer, and transportation is in short supply. Many major trucking firms are not even operating west of the Rocky Mountains, Moore said.

In addition, the shortage of materials means there’s competition for what’s available. Automobile manufacturers need that foam, too.

The West Coast has a number of cities that are major ports of entry for products from Asia, so the transportation challenges aren’t as great as they could be. But so many goods are waiting to be unloaded that furniture is sitting for six to eight weeks, Cox said, behind higher-priority goods.