Other than contracting the COVID-19 virus, one of the biggest worries people have had during the ongoing pandemic has been the diminished availability of certain products. Slowdowns in manufacturing, border closures, disruptions in the supply chain and panic buying have resulted in the occasional shortage of everything from toilet paper to bread yeast.
Like most industries impacted by supply chain challenges, the furniture and appliance sector has not been insulated from the retail realities of operating during the pandemic. One of the immediate consequences has been a shift in the residential products consumers have been demanding most often.
“When COVID first started there was an incredible spike in demand for freezers,” explained Julie Jenkins, General Manager of Leon’s North Bay. “People stocking up on food had nowhere to put it, so they were buying freezers. Now we’re not likely to see freezers until the fall. That’s not just at Leon’s, that’s going to be anywhere that relies on a vendor to ship them freezers.”
Another product category heavily impacted by consumer demand as a result of COVID has been patio furniture. With people self-isolating and spending more time at home, improving their immediate outdoor surroundings has become a major focus for many homeowners. That has presented a supply and demand challenge for retailers like Leon’s.
“For us, we have to order the products roughly 10 months before we need it,” said Jenkins. “We base those projections on the previous year’s sales. When the pandemic hit, the patio furniture demand spiked but the supply, because we had to order so far in advance, sold out rather quickly. Many retailers are out of patio furniture until next season.”
Thankfully for local consumers in need of furniture and appliances, Leon’s North Bay has a local warehouse that has helped the company mitigate the impact of COVID on their inventory.
“The main thing is, our single biggest strength is that we have a local warehouse,” said Jenkins. “And the good news is we can still get product. It may take a little longer than normal, but for items that are in stock, we can deliver them typically in a short amount of time. The items we do have on hand are right here in North Bay and available for immediate pick-up and delivery.”
With the store transitioning from online sales and curbside pickup to being fully opened to foot traffic, Jenkins said more consumers are visiting the store to do their shopping. As for the current product demand, Jenkins said there’s a shift towards lifestyle items.
“As people are spending more time at home, they’re purchasing what I call the creature comforts of home. They’re looking to replace the recliner that wasn’t working as well as it used to or the mattress that wasn’t as comfortable as it should be. The lifestyle items that make you feel good are the products most in demand now.”
For more information call 705-472-0510, click here or visit Leon’s showroom at 2167 Algonquin Avenue.