Supply Chain Challenges Forcing Kitchen & Bath Firms to Cope

by Anita Shaw

CHICAGO — Disruptions in the global supply chain continue to be a significant industrywide challenge, with lead times for both domestic- and foreign-sourced products and materials reportedly stretching for weeks, if not months, while forcing kitchen and bath design professionals to employ an array of tactics aimed at mitigating the impact of delivery delays, inflation-fueled price pressures and consumer uncertainty.

Those are among the key findings of a nationwide survey conducted by Kitchen & Bath Design News in conjunction with its exclusive research partner, the Research Institute for Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI). The online survey involved more than 350 kitchen/bath dealers, designers, remodelers and other specifiers in markets across the U.S.

KBDN’s survey found that record-high product backlogs, a challenge for nearly two years, continue to remain vexing even as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes – lengthening the time before work can begin on kitchen/bath remodels, while increasing project costs, squeezing profit margins, expanding construction cycles and causing skittish customers to temporarily postpone, and even cancel, remodeling commitments until market conditions settle.

Equally evident is the pervasive belief that global logistical problems, skilled labor shortages and pricing pressures are not likely to dissipate any time soon – and, indeed, may even worsen in the months ahead. Roughly half of the kitchen and bath professionals surveyed say they expect supply chain disruptions to continue at the same rate as they are now. One in four say they believe that the supply chain issues will improve, while one in five expect conditions to worsen.

Major home appliances – particularly refrigerators and cooking appliances – along with cabinetry have been the product categories most heavily impacted by supply chain issues, twice that of any other category of kitchen and bath product, surveyed design professionals report. Also impacted, among other products, have been plumbing fixtures and fittings, cabinet hardware, flooring and countertop materials like granite and ceramic tile, KBDN survey respondents say.

Among other survey findings:

  • Nearly three in four (73%) of those surveyed report that supply chain issues have resulted in “major” price increases for products, while another 24% say that price increases, while palpable, have been “minor.” In contrast, only 1% of survey respondents report they’ve witnessed no noticeable product price increases due to the delays.
  • More than half (52%) of surveyed kitchen and bath professionals report that product/material price increases, while generally being passed along to customers, have decreased their profit margins. In contrast, only 17% of respondents say they’ve experienced either a significant or a minor positive bump in margins.
  • More than half (55%) of current kitchen and bath customers are postponing or cancelling projects as the result of either shipment delays or price increases, according to surveyed design pros.

 

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