The School Furniture Market in 2021
The past year and a half has somehow seemed to both fly by and also drag on. No industry was left unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on product availability and shipping issues. Global shortages of products and materials have meant delays in manufacturing and, ultimately, the availability of consumer products. Also, because fewer materials are shipping, the prices of many have skyrocketed. The school furniture and equipment market has seen this first hand. Many of the common materials used to construct these items are in high demand and short supply.
The Lumber Market
For most of 2020 and 2021 thus far, the lumber industry has been experiencing what experts tend to call a bubble. Lumber prices reached unprecedented levels, which then caused prices to increase for manufactured items where wood was a primary material. However, in the past few months, there has been a steady decrease in prices on raw lumber. While the decrease hasn’t been as evident on the consumer side in retail stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s, school furniture manufacturers are appreciating the price dip.
A.T. Equipment Sales partners with several furniture manufacturers that rely on wood as a primary building material for their products. Manufacturers like Diversified Woodcrafts create stunning casework, tables, and desks that are visible in schools around the United States. The recent lumber price decrease brings great news for them and other partners and will allow them to continue producing top-quality furniture at affordable prices for educational institutions.
The Steel Industry
The steel industry, much like lumber, saw a significant impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and its halt on manufacturing operations. Many mills shut down entirely for a while. Others had to reduce their capacity of operations drastically. As mills are slowly ramping up production again, the demand for materials that were recently unavailable is high – leading to high prices as well. The industry expects that prices should steady as production catches up with demand. However, the short-term price increases on raw materials may mean furniture manufacturers have to increase their product prices as well.
Transportation and Shipping Woes
In addition to shortages of raw supplies, the COVID-19 situation led to negative effects on shipping throughout the world. From furniture to cars and household products – consumers have seen higher shipping costs and longer shipping times during the past year and a half. So, what is causing the delay in the shipping of products and materials?
Some of the effects stem from shortages in production and also in staffing at warehouses and transportation companies. The pandemic forced many organizations to run operations with fewer employees due to social distancing requirements. Additionally, more sick leave of existing employees has been used due to COVID-19 cases and required quarantine periods. With fewer employees staffing ports, warehouses, and transportation companies – it takes longer for products to arrive at their intended destination.
Many of our manufacturers have felt the effects on shipping. But, most are working to combat shipping delays by keeping large numbers of their most popular products on hand for immediate delivery to customers. For example, the Quick-Ship Program from Fomcore features a variety of popular furniture options for schools that all ship within 24 hours to 2 weeks from order. Like many of our other partners, Fomcore realizes that schools can’t always wait the extended time it may take for products to ship, so they work diligently to keep offerings in stock to accommodate educator needs promptly.
Outlook for School Furniture Moving Forward
While we are in no case “back to normal” when it comes to manufacturing and transportation – it seems that we are headed in that direction. Manufacturers can now resume close to if not the full capacity of employees daily. While there may be price increases on finished products for the short term, it is hoped that these are indeed short-lived and prices will continue to drop back to pre-pandemic levels as supply catches up with demand.
At A.T. Equipment Sales, we partner with a variety of furniture and equipment manufacturers. Doing so allows us to bring high-quality products to schools around the United States. We can also offer many options when it comes to product materials and turnaround times for delivery.
Whether you are looking for items needed for the upcoming school year or thinking more long-term into the future, we have options to get you the products you need, when you need them. Contact us today to discuss your options!