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Appliance Repair or Replacement? The Answer Is Even Less Clear in a Post-COVID World.

Consumers are spending more time at home, which has both increased wear on household appliances and caused a desire among homeowners to remodel, or at least to replace older appliances. Combined, repair and replacement has sustained household appliance demand, particularly for freezers which saw a substantial spike in demand as consumer purchases of frozen foods surged at the beginning of the pandemic. However, retailers across the country, from Arkansas to Florida to Michigan to Pennsylvania, are experiencing supply shortages of household appliances.

Temporary manufacturing plant closures during the early part of the pandemic and lingering supply issues ­– since many parts used in appliance assembly are sourced overseas – have wreaked havoc on the ability of producers to meet increased appliance demand. These shortages are causing what was previously a 1- to 2-day turnaround between purchase and delivery to stretch into an 8- to 12-week waiting period.

Given the supply shortage, what options are available to consumers who have a broken appliance or want to replace an older unit?

  1. Repair, which is usually less expensive than replacement, though appliance repair companies are facing the same supply issues as appliance manufacturers. Repairs are also usually a two-trip endeavor: one to diagnose the problem and the other to repair the appliance (if the part is available), so consumers have to decide if they are comfortable doubling their potential exposure to COVID-19.
  2. Small, local, and independent appliance stores may have more stock available than big-box or home improvement stores, as they can be overlooked by consumers. Some of these stores even stock and sell used appliances.
  3. Upgrading to a more expensive unit, as these products are more likely to be in stock. Going above budget is typically not a wise financial decision, but spending an extra $500 on an appliance to avoid the two-month wait for delivery can be justifiable to someone whose refrigerator just broke down and can’t be repaired.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Global Major Household Appliances report. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

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