"It's the perfect storm:" Local furniture stores work through lingering foam shortage, delivery delays

Esprit Decor couch
Posted at 8:06 AM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 12:20:42-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - "Mother Nature did a job on the furniture business last year."

Words straight from the industry's mouth, heard in a video released by Furniture 1st, a furniture buyer group with a membership of more than 200 family-owned stores.

The message is aimed at store customers, as furniture stores have been bogged down by long delivery delays since last year.

Among them is Esprit Decor Home Furnishings in Chesapeake, where co-owner Ricky Christian says the delays have been frustrating.

"Luckily, most customers understand and do realize what's going on around us," he told News 3.

The truth, Christian says, is that the issue is out of his hands, beginning with pre-pandemic truck driver shortages.

Pandemic-era manufacturing employee shortages followed, along with lumber and plywood shortages. Then last year, he says hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico impacted petroleum mining, which in turn impacted foam production.

Throw in winter storms that shut down foam production plants in Texas earlier this year and ongoing shipping delays, and customers of Esprit Decor and countless other furniture stores are waiting a long time for the pieces they've ordered.

"We have some companies taking 14 to 16 weeks, which is on the good side. We have companies taking up to eight months right now," he tells News 3.

Christian says the issue is mostly impacting sofas. It's also forced his customers to change the way they go about buying.

"We've kind of shifted our business model in that we are letting more product go off the showroom floor and we're backing up product like we didn't use to before, so we do have things readily available and that seems to be working out pretty well," Christian said.

The good news is sales continue to stay strong, he tells News 3, and shipping times appear to have peaked...for now.

But even if deliveries return to the normal 3 to 6-week time frame, he expects prices to remain high.

Furniture is one of a number of industries seeing price hikes as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

'That's what we're seeing is price rising, so I think it would make sense to if you're on the fence, go ahead and pull the trigger and get what you want on order," Christian suggests.

Because when there's a good chance you'll have to wait, you might as well pay as little as possible.