If you are interested in building your own home or remodeling your current space, you may have some very pertinent questions, such as these:
“I picked out my wood floor, so why can’t I get it tomorrow? What kind of wait time should I expect? If I have to wait, can I blame Covid?”
These are all valid questions that we will address.
The scoop on manufacturing delays.
For durable goods like wood flooring, the manufacturing time is longer than in other industries. After all, you can’t just cut down a tree and install it in your home. After a tree is harvested, depending on the species, the wood needs to dry anywhere from 3 to 9 months. It could easily be one year to a year and a half before the lumber can result in a flooring product for purchase.
Currently, in the durable goods and building industry, we are experiencing a knock-on effect that started in March of last year when the pandemic caused lockdowns and negatively influenced production. Historically, the wood industry is conservative, with not a lot of high margins. With the onset of the pandemic, manufacturers did not know if there would be an increased demand for lumber or not but erred on the side of caution—predicting there would be reduced building. With the likelihood that inventory could not be sold, lumber producers did not increase supply, and subsequently inventories began to decrease.
Over the last year the demand for lumber and durable goods has remained strong, and there was a year-long supply chain to meet that demand. However, now we are feeling the effects of growing inventories, and although suppliers have increased production, all that lumber still has to go through the supply chain.
In the flooring industry, this entails the complexity of international shipping and logistics. After production, lumber has to move to a warehouse and eventually to a port or border facility where it can gain customs clearance. Then it is moved from the country of origin to the importing country where again it has to clear customs before it can be hauled to its final destination. Given this lengthy process, an order placed today for a wood floor may take 6 to 9 months until it is received; this can make for quite a delay.
In addition, with consumers being at home more often over the last year, their spending habits changed. More discretionary income was spent on durable goods rather than going out for entertainment. The durable goods industry faced greater demand, which in turn placed a stronger demand on the logistics industry, the supply chain arm that moves goods from point of origin to consumer.
Recently, the amount of freight has peaked, and in turn there is a shortage of shipping containers, delivery vehicles, boats and trucks. This means that shipping moves slower. We’ve seen even simple transit time from factory to warehouse going from 5 weeks to sometimes as long as 10 weeks. So the burning question . . .
Once I order, when will I get my floor?
Here at Real Wood Floors, we did our best to foresee what might happen with the supply chain, and last summer we started ramping up production. We have slowly manufactured more product while the demand has risen, and each day we come closer to having more flooring in stock for our customers.
In our really popular colors, we still have demand that is outpacing supply, and some stock is back-ordered. If you are building a home, we encourage you to reserve your floor to meet your building schedule.
If you need wood flooring, please try to plan and shop early, so that you can make sure your floor is spoken for. In some cases, you may have to wait several months, so please act soon so you don’t have to consider an alternate flooring choice over your ideal!
We are pleased to report that some of our flooring lines can be purchased with little or no delay, and that includes Garret from our Brick and Board Collection. Garret is a versatile, engineered floor that works with nearly all design styles.
Can I blame Covid?
Yes and no. The pandemic did lead to various supply shortages, but the real issue in the US has to do with problems in our current supply chain process. Product delays have been (and will continue for some time) a direct result of shortages begetting more shortages.
From computer chips and cars to electronic devices, product scarcity occurred because of a flawed process in the supply chain. At US shipping ports, cargo ships typically wait a day before they can dock and goods can be unloaded. However, when the pandemic struck, ships outside the port in Los Angeles had to wait a couple of weeks. So soon you have a number of ships having to wait a good number of days. Other cargo ships faced similar challenges, and this has a rippling effect.
With Covid illnesses and restrictive work protocols, fewer dock workers have been able to perform their jobs. Fewer shipping containers have been available for goods because they are sitting in the water. Container prices have risen. There has been a shortage of truck drivers to transport the goods. When goods have finally been unloaded and shipped, the empty ship containers have been slow to get back to countries of origin for more product.
The end result? Shortage of product. And for us, a shortage of lumber and flooring. So you can’t blame Covid for the issue, but you can say it was the instigating force.
Request samples of Garret.
Facing the challenges of Covid and a faulty supply chain, we continue to do our best to meet customer needs.
If you have any questions about wood flooring or would like to request samples of our Garret floor, then please contact us today through our website or by phone, 877.215.1831.