Appliance shortage impacting Pittsburgh-area businesses, consumers – WPXI
PITTSBURGH – A nationwide equipment shortage is affecting businesses and consumers in the Pittsburgh area.
Channel 11 reached out to several business owners in the area who reported the shortage began in March 2020 – just as the pandemic was starting.
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“We first noticed this with freezers,” said Ed Pelino Jr., owner of Bridgeville Appliance.
The uncertainty surrounding the shutdown prompted consumers to stock up on frozen goods. Then, when people stayed home, they may have done laundry and cooked more often instead of going out to eat.
Matt Hillebrand, director of Don’s Appliances, said the increased use of devices has shortened the life expectancy of some products, leaving consumers in the market for new items sooner than expected.
Additionally, some chose to renovate their homes with brand new equipment instead of spending their savings on travel or entertainment that was banned during the shutdown.
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“We saw that sales far exceeded production,” said Hillebrand. “Given the COVID backlash we’ve all experienced, parts availability is an issue. … There are transport problems from ports on the east and west coasts. Then you have problems with the transport. … It’s a multidimensional problem that we don’t expect to be fixed anytime soon. “
“The demand is high; the offer is low. Basic Economics, ”said Nick Sprowls, owner of Sprowls City Appliance in Washington. Sprowls said his store sells “anything we can get our hands on”. He said dishwashers are extremely scarce but noted that they really “cover the scale”.
Pelino agrees that everything is hit or miss.
Hillebrand told Channel 11 that “inexpensive products of all kinds” are particularly scarce, so consumers should expect to pay more to get a device as soon as possible.
The business owners also told Channel 11 that customers may have to forego a certain feature or color they were hoping for in order to get a product as soon as possible.
At Don’s Appliances, the warehouse is jam-packed with items as the team has tried to buy in bulk to maintain inventory.
But if a consumer wants something that is out of stock, “they could wait more than 20 to 24 weeks,” Hillebrand said.
Pelino advised people who are or will be in the market to place orders as soon as possible.
This also applies to parts. If you’re thinking of simply fixing a broken device so you don’t have to wait for a new one, you might still have to wait.
Joel Norris, owner of Joel Norris Appliance Repair, said he had to wait months for certain parts from his manufacturer, which means customers don’t always get immediate service.
“We’re going to say, ‘It’s behind. I have to order from my suppliers. ‘ [Customers] is going to go to amazon and order an after-market part and say, ‘hey, i got it. Come on, put it on. ‘ But I can’t guarantee that stuff, ”Norris told us.
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As frustrating as the situation may be for entrepreneurs and consumers, the people we interviewed found that business is doing well, which is not bad news for an economy and labor market that has been rocked by the pandemic.
“We have brought back all of the people we have laid off,” said Hillebrand. “We added some people. We’re adding a few additional locations. “
“We are very blessed,” said Sprowls. “Business is going through the roof.”
Channel 11 ran a series of reports on the impact of the pandemic on products in its “Summer Scarcity” series.
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