Mike Guion is looking at a lot of unknowns these days.
With shortages hitting supply lines for all major appliances — stoves, washers, dryers and refrigerators — Guion says it’s all he can do to keep stock and orders coming into to Guion’s Showcase Furniture and Appliances.
“We started noticing this in April and it’s just kept on getting worse,” Guion, who has owned the longstanding furniture store since 1990, said. “Boy, when they shut down the factories in late April, we started going from two day shipping to who knows when?”
Guion said his main appliance supplier is Whirlpool, who manufactures appliances under a number of large brand names such as Maytag, Amana and KitchenAid. Orders have been repeatedly pushed back, with anticipated shipping dates pushing into March 2021.
It’s to the point where Guion does not know what to tell customers when something will be in.
“How can I tell someone when something will be here if I don’t know?” he said. “They change the date three or four different times. If they don’t want to wait, I don’t want to sell it to you. I just don’t know when it’s going to be here.”
Guion said manufacturer shutdowns at Whirlpool plants in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Clyde, Ohio have affected a lot of supply lines to resellers like Guion’s Showcase.
He’s been unable to get in low-end refrigerators and stoves that are popular with local landlords.
“You just can’t get a $500 stove right now,” Guion said, adding that usually at this time of year his own warehouse would be stocked in anticipation of Black Friday sales and the upcoming Christmas shopping season.
This year, however, the anticipated sales are looking pretty slim. While some shipments are coming in — the store received a 40-piece shipment on Thursday — they are not nearly where they should be.
And it’s not just appliances.
Raw materials, such as lumber and steel, have caused backlogs in other areas as well.
“We got a chair in on Thursday for a lady who ordered it in May,” Guion said, shaking his head. “It’s just taking longer than it used to.”
Surprisingly, Temperpedic mattresses have not seemed to be affected and the store is able to get those in stock quickly.
It’s everything else that is the problem and it’s not for lack for work at the factories making the appliances.
“It’s the shutdowns, it’s people not coming back to work, people getting sick,” Guion said. “People go to work when they’re sick, they’re having to quarantine for 14 days. They don’t have the workforce that they had, so they’re running 60 - 70% of where they were.”
According to Forbes.com, Whirlpool is seeing a boost in stock due to pandemic-driven sales — even amid these supply and demand issues.
“The company’s stock grew 40% year-to-date to around $200 levels, and largely outperformed the S&P index which moved 9% YTD,” Forbes reported Friday. “The company was able to beat market expectations on revenue and earnings in both quarters so far this year.”
Still, uncertainly as the pandemic continues could have a “potential adverse impact on holiday sales.”
Locally, Guion said they are also having issues with getting parts for service calls. What used to be an overnight turnaround for most parts has turned into weeks at a time.
But, sales have been steady since a slump in April.
“Overall this has been a pretty good year for us,” he said. “We had a horrible month in April. But people had to stay at home, they weren’t taking vacations and we’re finding that people are spending money on themselves and their homes. I think if we could keep a better inventory, we would have a better year.”
Guion said for the most part, customers are understanding. They know what’s going on and they know Guion and his staff are doing the best they can given the circumstances.
“I’m going to be in pretty good shape for Christmas,” he said. “We just ask people to be patient.”