Import Inventory Shortages Persist

Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Friday, 9 July 2010

My June 18th post, Inventory Issues for Office Furniture Importers, highlighted a growing problem of inventory shortages with office furniture importers. Overall, my dealership has been pretty fortunate in being able to avoid any significant inventory outages, until today...

Today we went to pick up an order for a new client, and we were told that over 75% of the pedestals (the filing drawers within a workstation) were "out of stock". Our vendor is a major west coast importer, and the fact that they are out of a key component, illustrates that the supply chain problems are growing worse.

An article from the July 7th USA Today, Growing shipping bottlenecks delay deliveries to retailers, summarized the issue:

"Shipping companies idled vessels during the slump, and Chinese factories that make shipping containers shuttered or throttled back. Many ships are back in service, but the container crunch has worsened in recent weeks... Also, ships have been running at slower speeds to save fuel, effectively cutting capacity." The article also noted that transportation costs have been boosted as much as 150%.

If this problem persists (which it looks like it will), it could severely dampen the demand for imported office furniture. While this would be a boon for the domestic producers who have been hammered over the past five years by the onslaught of low cost imports, it also means a possible return to longer lead-times and higher prices.