Before moving into their new home in Oxfordshire in May 2021, Mark Hawley and his partner Tesilo Tuchatsky ordered a raft of new furniture when they arrived: sofas, beds, kitchen tables – everything, except two. of the desks and office chairs they brought with them. them
By July, however, despite ordering both a table and sofa in March, they were still without a lamp, bedside table, chest of drawers, a kitchen table and two sofas.
It required some adjustments: Without couches, they would watch TV on two wooden bar stools at their kitchen island. When they hosted a reunion with university friends, they set up four plastic camping tables and covered them with tablecloths. It wasn’t exactly the move they were hoping for.
Thankfully the sofas arrived this month – seven weeks after the stated timeframe – while the wood issue held the table back until September – five months after it was ordered. In both cases, they were told supply chain disruptions were partly to blame.
“When you move into a new house, you want to make it a home as soon as possible. With delays, that wasn’t possible until the furniture started arriving,” says Holley.
“It wasn’t ideal, but there wasn’t really anything you could do about it. I think that’s the nature of procrastination – you’re basically powerless. You can call, email and be on hold. You can sit, but basically, you can’t do anything.
Hawley and Tochatschek were by no means alone in this situation. Affected by supply chain challenges in the form of shipping and port delays, Covid-related absences, raw material shortages and reduced reliability of HGV trunking, furniture retailers have struggled to keep up with rising demand during the pandemic. Struggled.
DFS, the UK’s largest sofa chain Reported that supply chain disruptions affected their revenue in 2021, and that their customer satisfaction scores had dropped. This year, he says the bottleneck is still limiting his progress.
Similarly, online furniture retailer Made.com reported a loss of £31.4 million in 2021, due to supply chain disruptions that increased freight costs and delivery times globally.
Things may have improved since last year, but consumers still face long turnaround times for furniture. Made.com, for example, says the average wait time was 3-4 weeks in June, and says they “worked incredibly hard to protect our customers from known, ongoing supply chain challenges.” Is”.
So can you avoid furniture delays? Sam Levine, director of the award-winning luxury design company LLI DesignOffers suggestions on how to minimize your wait.
Understand the process – and manage your expectations.
LLI Design, which “buys thousands of pieces of furniture” from several suppliers – the high street; Online only; Advanced customizations are, as Levin puts it, “very adept” at reducing latency.
“There’s always a chance of delay,” Levine says. “It’s the nature of something to come from a distance.”
Moving furniture will always take time, even with pandemics taken out of the equation. Furniture-making is a skilled, labor-intensive job, and manufacturing is regularly outsourced to areas where labor is cheaper.
It will often be shipped to the UK by sea, which is the cheapest method of transport for large items over long distances, so most items are given a lead time of eight to 12 weeks.
Similarly, the cost of storing large, heavy furniture means that, rather than keeping it in stock permanently, suppliers often store items for a limited time, trying to sell and sell them as quickly as possible. should be sent.
Levine says that during the pandemic, though, things got “jaw-droppingly bad,” with estimated timeframes missing entirely and some ordered items simply not showing up.
With that in mind, Levin says consumers should never expect furniture to arrive immediately. “I think people think they’re shopping online with Amazon, and it’s going to come the next day. It’s just not the same.”
Talk to the provider.
“If you’re concerned about lead time, try to talk to the supplier in advance,” Levine says. “You have to be able to estimate whether it’s likely to be delivered on time.”
First, ask the supplier if the item you are planning to order is actually in stock. If so, where is it currently stored?
“If you order it and it’s in stock, in storage in the UK, they’ll want to get it to you as soon as possible,” says Levine. On the other hand, if the item is overseas, you can expect it to take longer to arrive. Find out if it’s shipped – and if the item is still available.
It’s also a good idea to understand how the suppliers’ dispatch system works. Levine explains that some will do batch runs, meaning they will only ship items out of the warehouse after a certain quota has been reached.
The same goes for pre-made furniture which, as you might expect, will take longer to arrive than mass-produced items. Ask where the piece is being made and what the lead times are for both manufacturing and delivery.
“These are things you can try and do in advance to understand how long things might take, and if there are potential pitfalls and opportunities for delays,” Levine says.
Understand which items may take longer.
“Generally, something from a high street supplier or a prominent online supplier will arrive quicker than a bespoke or made-to-order item,” Levine explains.
Item size and ease of transportation will also make a difference. Larger furniture may be more prone to delays. For example, a sofa is less likely to be kept in stock due to storage costs for an item of its size, while a rug, which is smaller, may arrive quickly.
Meet suppliers with a physical store.
If you’re buying furniture from a supplier like John Lewis, which operates online as well as physical shops, you may have better luck.
Sometimes, Levine says, sites can give a longer estimate for furniture delivery online because they’re showing the availability of stock in their warehouses, not what’s on display in their stores. If you can find the item in the store, you’ll be able to collect it faster.
Many large furniture suppliers have large outlet stores. For example Andrew Martin has an outlet in Wimbledon, John Lewis has an outlet in Swindon and Hales recently opened an outlet on the King’s Road.
Alternatively, consider buying second-hand – here’s our guide on how to get furniture for free.
When to cancel your order
If a supplier grossly exceeds their stated timeframe for delivery – if your item hasn’t arrived in 12 weeks and you’ve been quoted eight, for example – you can cancel the order at your own discretion. Want to explore options? You will need to look at the company’s cancellation policy and find out if you have a reason to do so.
It’s not always an easy process, though – and it might not be worth it if the item is a little late. “If it’s being shipped from overseas and it’s en route, I think you’re going to find it very difficult. [to cancel]Levin says.
If you are able to pay by credit card, this may help with the cancellation.
Suppliers may want to avoid cancellations and may allow you to exchange an item of your choice that is in stock instead.
Levine added: “It’s a relatively difficult battle… If you want to spend a few hours on it, you can probably cancel it. If you’re busy or value your time more, it’s possible that you Put it on.”