Industry hit by longest appliance delays in 40 years

The majority of appliance manufacturers are still experiencing delays creating the longest lead times in 40 years, according to KBSA corporate chair Malcolm Scott.

Lead times have increased across nearly all appliance brands. Specifically, many dishwashing and refrigeration products have lead times of over 14 weeks, brought about by component shortages. Premium appliances like range cookers and side-by-side refrigeration can have lead times of up to 20 weeks.

According to Scott, the excessive lead times are due to a number of factors most notably high customer demand, component shortages, a lack of free stock in the supply chain and difficulties increasing manufacturing capacity.

Other widely reported issues that have also contributed to the delays are freight logistics and transport problems, lockdown restrictions in different countries, Brexit issues, and component shortages for large appliances. 

“Factories are still tackling the complexities of social distancing, while dealing with considerable disruptions to component supplies from China, and the logistical problems of getting road freight through international zones that are in complete lockdown,” Scott says.  “Brexit adds further problems. Enormous delays have been experienced by the transport industry at continental ports and UK harbours, putting strain on even the most organised of supply chains. In many cases, transport costs have more than doubled and knock-on price increases are common.”

Despite the supply delays, big-name appliance brands like Whirlpool Group, BSH Group, Miele, Electrolux Group and Amica have seen overall growth in sales in the last year. All brands were said to report year-on-year growth of between 5% and 17.5%. Appliance retailers like AO and Buy It Direct were also reporting double-digit growth.

Scott said: “Showrooms have re-opened to a ‘perfect storm, with large amounts of pent-up consumer demand alongside considerably less available stock. Independent electrical retailers with websites and repair facilities that continued to operate throughout the shutdowns have realised that consumers need to be educated to expect delays or substitutions when selecting appliances.

“The good news is that most consumers are anticipating supply issues due to Brexit and Covid, so have tended to be very understanding over the past few months, often accepting whatever is available. However, a long delay in obtaining a single replacement appliance has a considerably different dynamic from a long delay in obtaining completion on a full kitchen project, especially where final payment might be delayed until the appliances can be fitted.”

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