Appliance stores are still dealing with a run on refrigerators and freezers this past spring, among other pandemic-related supply chain issues.

By Jelisa Castrodale
September 25, 2020
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Alright, who's up for another round of Pandemic-Related Product Shortage Bingo? You should've already stamped your cards if you had squares for Dr. Pepper, aluminum cans, coins, yeast, and Marmite shortages, but get ready to mark the boxes marked "refrigerators" or "freezers," because we're apparently running out of those too. 

According to NPR, a number of factors have contributed to the empty floor space in the appliance section, everything from a springtime run on fridges and freezers because we were all stockpiling enough food for the End Times, to stores being conservative with their product orders out of fears that nobody would be making major purchases this year, to production slowdowns caused by the pandemic itself. 

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"Now they’re practicing social distancing [at the factories] which has decreased the production," the manager of a Honolulu appliance store told KHON. "Example given to me was a normal factory might produce one model 100 a day, but now it’s only 60." She said she has a 40-50 person waitlist for freezers, and she's not adding any more names until those orders start to come in.

And on top of all that, it turns out that when we're stuck inside our own houses for weeks on end, we start tackling all of those home improvement projects—or making all of those overdue upgrades—that we've been putting off since we moved in. (And having to cancel our vacation plans until… who knows when means that we've got some extra money for new kitchen appliances.) "It's kind of the perfect storm of all these factors that are creating this demand, and brands like LG are ramping up to meet it,"  John Taylor, a spokesperson for LG Electronics USA told NPR. 

Appliance retailers are slightly less optimistic, suggesting that Black Friday probably isn't going to feature the kind of deep discounts that we've come to expect on that unofficial shoppers' holiday. In other words, it could be a repeat of Labor Day. One New Jersey appliance dealer said that GE Appliances offered promotional deals on 330 different appliance models for Labor Day last year but this year, that number dropped to 25. Other stores didn't bother putting appliances on sale, because they knew they didn't have any in-stock anyway. 

If you're in the market for a new fridge, retailers have suggested being flexible with the style, finish, or features that you're looking for, and to put your name on a store's waitlist instead of waiting for a backordered product to get restocked. (According to the New York Post, some big box stores' websites show fridges and freezers as being available for purchase, but when customers try to schedule a delivery date, it's weeks—if not months—in the future.) 

On the bright side, by the time refrigerators are back in stock, there might be enough ground beef and Dr. Pepper to put in them.