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Labor Day weekend sales impacted by appliance shortage

Jeanette Settembre
·3 mins read

Supply chain disruptions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are putting a damper on Labor Day weekend sales.

Americans in the market for new appliances and waiting until the unofficial end of summer to get a deal on dishwashers, refrigerators, washer-dryers and other big-budget household items may have to hold out longer for a bargain, industry experts say.

"While supply chain issues have improved in many product categories as compared to a few months ago, inventory and pricing are still fluctuating in ways that can be difficult to track as a consumer,” Regina Conway, a consumer expert at Slickdeals.net, told FOX Business on Monday.

Warehouses and factories that manufacturer appliances across the country were operating at 50% capacity as a result of nationwide COVID-19 restrictions in March and April. A spokesperson for GE told FOX Business it paused plant operations for a week at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to enhance safety measures inside the facilities including social distancing, sanitization and temperature checks for workers. LG’s factory in Clarksville, Tenn. also had to stop production at its plant for a few weeks in April, but has since resumed, the company said.

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“There definitely are fewer promotions happening right now as an industry. We’re still having them for Labor Day, but it may be spotty in terms of certain models [some] may not be available at a certain time, but overall we’re doing our very best to minimize the disruptions in the market," John Taylor, a spokesman for LG, told FOX Business.

Local retailers are also seeing fewer deals ahead of the holiday weekend compared to last year. Designer Appliances based in New Jersey told the New York Post General Electric offered promotion pricing on around 330 appliance models last year and now they’ve only received 25.

"Freezer sales outpaced supply beginning in March as consumers stockpiled goods and demand remains at an unprecedented level. Usage of appliances is higher than ever before as people have spent more time with their families under one roof cooking, cleaning and storing food," Wendy Treinen, a spokeswoman for GE, said in an email.

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Indeed, with more Americans working from home during the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in home improvement projects with more shoppers frequenting stores like Lowes and Home Depot. Lowes saw in-store visits spike in April 14% year-over-year and 30% and 25.8% in June and July months according to data analytics firm Placer.ai. Home Depot, meanwhile, saw visit growth of 19.1% and 19% year-over-year in June and July, the data showed.

And while Labor Day weekend is a big end of the season sales driver, retailers are likely to take a hit this year too. The apparel sector as a whole was down 25.7% for visits year-over-year the week beginning Aug. 17, while foot traffic to shopping centers was down 25% overall, according to data from Placer.ai.

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Other industry experts suggest shoppers hold off buying a new appliance to wait until closer to the holidays.

“Promotions will come right after Labor Day to pump up the holidays," Jake Cohen, retail expert and director of product at marketing platform Klaviyo, said.

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