I am not going to do an entire introduction on the Pandemic. We all get it. It is a global crisis and the interior design industry was not spared from the impact. I wanted to write this blog to help answer some of the questions that my clients and others ask me on a regular basis about what to expect now when it comes to renovating your home and redecorating in the midst of our current supply chain issues. This blog is for you whether you are re-creating your kitchen, renovating your bathroom, redesigning your living room, or simply redecorating your bedroom.
Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the installation and completion timelines of projects have become substantially behind schedule for a number of reasons. What is the cause for all of these delays? Why can’t you get your home design completed in your desired timeline? Why are lead times so long?
‘Updating the Everyday Space’ Trend: Demand
Over the pandemic, we have been either in lock-downs or had restrictions in place that limited our ability to go out and be in the world. What we did instead was stay home, work from home, play from home, and mingle from home. It was found by Statistics Canada that “from April 2020 to June 2021, 30% of employees aged 15 to 64… had performed most of their hours from home.” WE WERE HOME A LOT.
While we sat at home we began to take a serious look around and notice that things weren’t as good as they could be. There became a need to improve home office spaces for stay at home workers, and the desire to make the home more comfortable and functional and beautiful for mental health was a popular mindset. This led to a mass assessment of the layout and design of residential interiors and the decision to make changes.
This simple decision led to a skyrocketing increase in demand for paint, construction materials, home décor, and furniture sales. This increase came through two streams – renovation and interior design of the home people were ‘stuck in’, or new home purchases that needed to be ‘made home’. According to statista.com, the beginning of 2020 resulted in a home décor and furnishing platform increasing their global traffic by 7%! People wanted ‘new’ for the spaces that they were suddenly spending so much time in. Great for us! But…
EVERYONE had the same idea…
Supply Chain Crisis: Supply
Demand can increase unexpectedly and without warning, as we have just seen. When people thought spending would halt and real estate would crash, the opposite happened. Suppliers were not prepared for the influx and could not have been, and delays and shortages were the result.
Let’s work backwards:
Labour shortage crisis
Remember how you were home without the ability to go to work? So were many of the employees working in warehouses, transportation, and manufacturing. In order to properly follow pandemic restrictions, many businesses were forced to cut their available staff down to ensure they were following COVID-19 protocols. These cuts, as well as the need for social distancing and other safety measures, crippled companies from being able to fulfill orders quickly enough for the influx in demand.
Even if their staff could all jump back into work, what were they working on? There had been no shipments and raw goods were in short supply from around the world due to the shipping crisis (see next section) piggybacking off of the huge tariffs that were recently placed on these raw goods (causing furniture costs to increase by 2.8x in some cases). Products were out of stock and the lead time for some furniture exceeded 35 weeks with the estimation of receiving raw materials, manufacturing, and shipping to stores and designers.
The majority of raw materials come to Canada from overseas. That image that just popped into your head of the cargo shipping containers on huge tankers crossing the ocean is accurate. And there are a few things to note about these.
- These are hugely expensive to send across the ocean (prices have already increased to cover the rising costs – you’re extremely fortunate if your price did not increase even after you placed the order as some companies were canceling orders for those not willing to pay for the increase). So ships do not make a return trip until they could be filled with enough supplies to make it worth it. This means that they needed to wait until they were loaded up before they could leave port.
- With fewer people working, who is loading those ships? Where are these raw materials coming from and are they short on staff too? The haste in which these ships were refilled caused delays.
- On this side of the ocean, with fewer people working, there weren’t enough people to unload the ships. This caused thousands of ships to sit out in the water waiting to be unloaded for weeks. This also caused prices to go up.
- Once the ship was finally brought to port, where were they unloaded? Onto trucks? Where were all the truck drivers? With all the layoffs and the temporary drop in demand early on, there were fewer trucks waiting in the wings to bring products cross country and deliver them to warehouses and suppliers and stores.
This is an oversimplification of supply chain management and the delays that are causing your furnishings to be bumped further and further back in delivery. And you may have noticed that I wrote in past tense. I did this because all of these things happened over the last couple years. However, it is important to note that the residual effects of all of that are still going strong and the world is not back to normal. Companies are playing catch up and 1 step forward sometimes means 2 steps back. Unfortunately, you, the consumer, are the one that waits the longest and pays the price – because you are the demand.
What You Can do in the Meantime
I get it. It is disappointing to not be able to update your home in the timeline you want. Trust me – the days of the ‘big reveal’ where we hold all of our clients’ furniture and install it all in 1 day do not exist – because we can’t hold furniture for 6 months when people need somewhere to eat and sleep. The good news is there are still things you can do to improve the look and feel of your home without relying on the urgency of the supply chain!
- Re-create a space by changing the layout
- Add a fresh coat of paint or a new colour to your walls (that said, there are not currently any sample sizes offered because of shortages in that industry)
- Head to a local thrift store to find décor that you can refurbish or restyle
- Do a home décor swap party with family or friends
- Browse previously loved furniture on Facebook Marketplace
- Shop curated vignettes on our new online consignment decor store (local to Calgary)
- Get guidance on how to best design your home with a DIY Interior Design Consultation
- Leave the decorating to us and hire us for interior decorating and styling so at least you don’t need to stress over the timelines and shipping!
Our world and the interior design industry is one full of unknowns and delays. So, while we roll with the punches and anxiously anticipate the arrival of our beautiful new interior furnishings, take note of the things you would like to accomplish in your home! And remember small changes can make a huge difference!
I wish you a speedy delivery and an incredible home transformation!