Appliance shortage affects P.E.I. stores and customers

·2 min read

Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.

Staff say manufactures had to slow down or shut down completely during the pandemic.

And even when they started up again, physical distancing rules for workers, sanitizing protocols and transportation issues continued to affect how much product was available.

At MacArthur's Appliances, staff said ordering used to be easy. But now they are searching for products and trying to stock up, knowing it could take months to get anything in.

"I've been at it for 30-plus years and I've never seen zero, zero, zero in inventory slots," said owner Carman MacArthur. "There's nothing there."

Laura Meader
Laura Meader

MacArthur said the shortage is a national issue and warehouses are almost empty.

He said he stocks up and, luckily, a back order just came in. However, if a customer wants an appliance the store doesn't have on the floor, it will be a couple of months of waiting — minimum.

Demand up

Meanwhile, several other P.E.I. appliance stores also said it is difficult to get stock from manufacturers.

And on top of that, the stores said demand is way up.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"Nobody plans on travelling for the next year, so everybody's looking at their house now, it's time to get some new stuff," said Bill Gallant, the appliance manager for Birt's Furniture.

Gallant said construction of new housing is also adding to the interest.

"Never seen anything like this since the day we got the opening from public health. It's been just amazing," he said.

Shortages delay new apartments

According to the APM Group, which has several apartment buildings under construction now, the lack of appliances is slowing down move-in dates for tenants.

CEO Tim Banks said a new building in Stratford should already have been opened but now he's "scrounging" for appliances to fill the units.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"We're missing refrigerators, we're missing dishwashers, we've got some in, I think we've got 22 units of a 61-unit building ready to go," he said.

It's very different from pre-pandemic years, said Banks, adding that all his properties are affected.

The company said it is trying to use any available stock — putting in fridges that don't quite fit and rewiring for other appliances that were available but didn't match the original construction plans.

Banks said getting appliances for barrier-free units is particularly hard.

"Appliances are a tough issue right now."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Store owners on the Island said the end of the shortage is unpredictable.

And while many have their fingers crossed that things will get easier by next summer, they also worry the pandemic could get worse and cause further delays.

More from CBC P.E.I.