Home Household items Hard to Find: What Homeware Shortages Say About Our Current Lifestyle | australian way of life

Hard to Find: What Homeware Shortages Say About Our Current Lifestyle | australian way of life

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In early April, fearing his hard-earned shoulders would crumble during lockdown, my husband tried to buy some weights. He spent hours searching, online and in stores, and couldn’t find anything heavy to lift. Even on Gumtree, where you’d expect an enterprising soul or two to sell home gym equipment at exorbitant prices, there was nothing.

In the end, he improvised by filling a sports bag with 40 kg of sand.

Weights aren’t the only ones to mysteriously disappear from store shelves in recent months. There has been a national seed shortage, Nintendo Switch consoles are still hard to find in the worldand the scarcity of toilet paper is now so entrenched in the history of Covid-19 that it has become part of museum collections.

This week, when face coverings became mandatory in Melbourne, retailers struggled to keep up with demand – not just for masks, but for the sewing machines to make them. Although a representative for Spotlight declined to comment specifically on a shortage of sewing machines, they told Guardian Australia that “stock, including sewing machines and fabric, is replenished regularly and if you sew masks for yourself, please consider making extras for your family, friends and community members”.

In some cases, like the Nintendo Switch, these shortages are compounded by Covid-19 disrupts manufacturing and supply chains, limiting product availability. In others, like toilet paper, it’s just unpredictable spikes in demand temporarily exceeding an otherwise stable supply.

Tracey Lefebure, general merchandise manager at Bunnings Warehouse, declined to comment specifically on sold-out items, but said: “We saw strong sales across all categories, including gardening, painting and organizing, as customers continue to improve their home during this time. She adds, “We are working closely with suppliers to ensure that we continue to meet customer demand for the products they need.”

Our fashion tastes have also changed during the pandemic. Online retailer The Iconic says it has not encountered any Covid-19 related issues in its supply of goods – but has been ‘constantly restocking’ its loungewear supplies since the start of this year; and had to replenish their stock of Birkenstocks “almost every week”. Down jackets have also sold out fast – perhaps because more Australians are shivering working in their poorly insulated homes. Predictably, last week face masks became The Iconic’s most searched item.

Most of the goods that arrive in Australia from overseas used to arrive in the holds of commercial airliners. Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, said that “there is no doubt that restrictions on airlines have reduced the number of products entering Australia or caused delays”, but added that “companies transport and delivery companies have chartered specific commercial aircraft to bring in inventory”. .

International supply chains are extremely complex and move much slower than a global pandemic. Stock must be ordered weeks or even months in advance, whereas a life-changing mandatory health order (and a desire for products that enable or more bearable compliance with it) takes only days to implement.

However, the longer the world exists in this altered state, the better equipped retailers are to deal with it. “There are still occasional delays after supply disruptions earlier in the year,” says Zahra, “but retailers continue to work hard to find alternate sources of delivery to keep their stores stocked.”