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Furniture News

 

Here you can find all the latest updates and more information about the Furniture Industry at this time, if you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact us - info@furnitureloft.co.uk

 

We're sorry to say that we are experiencing delays at this time. If your delivery has been affected, please accept our apologies. We're working hard to minimise the impact of an everchanging set of circumstances. Please see below information from our Director :

 

"Although the current situation is affecting everyone in the Furniture Industry, it is also affecting everyone who imports goods from the Far East. I've been selling furniture for 55 years and importing and exporting containers for over 40, but I have never known anything approaching what is now happening, and no one else has either. The problems in summary are as follows, should you wish to read them I have gone into more detail at the bottom and given links to articles written about the situation."

 

1. Why is there such a shortage of furniture?

 

"For the last month, all of the major wholesalers I know have been over 70% out of stock. The reason is they have major problems getting furniture delivered to them in the UK. It is extremely difficult to get empty containers to load in the Far East. Felixstowe was so congested that the port refused to take empty containers for six days. That meant that thousands of containers were not returned to the Far East to be re-loaded. With serious delays in offloading containers when they reach Europe, this means there is the same delay in returning the containers to the Far East and when the containers do arrive in the UK, there are delays in offloading them."

 

2. Why is my furniture late and why am I not being given the exact date it will be available?

 

"In normal times, I and all other importers agree a date by which the goods will be made. My agent books a container for the goods and he also books the ship which will transport them. The ship will arrive at the UK port to offload with a 99% accuracy unless there are very major storms, or the port is closed because of very high winds which can happen at Felixstowe, although rarely. Transport will be pre-booked to bring the container from the port to our warehouse. We know the time and day we will receive the container six weeks in advance and we then can give our customers reliable information.

Since October this has all changed. The advice is still to book containers onto ships six weeks in advance, but the shipping lines will only accept bookings within two weeks of sailing. As there are more containers than bookings available, importers are having to pay a substantial premium to try to get their containers shipped. Although our contractual right is $1150, we are currently offering $6,600 to try to get on the ship.

The next problem is getting containers off the ship in the UK. No one is able to say how long it will take a container to be offloaded at Felixstowe, the largest port in the UK. We don't even know if goods intended for Felixstowe will actually be offloaded there or at Rotterdam. Because of the position in Felixstowe, much more is now being shipped to Southampton Port which means Southampton is becoming jammed. At the bottom you will see a link to an article by BBC Business News titled Felixstowe Chaos.

All of this gives us a dilemma - Do we advise customers of the latest updated dates that we have been told the goods should arrive, when for the reasons given above, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of what we are telling our customers? Personally, I would find it annoying to be given three or four different dates. The only time we can be sure is when we actually receive it into our warehouse.

I am told Radio 4 broadcasted an interview with a large furniture retailer on the 7th of December 2020, in which he stated that his company was no longer giving dates to customers for when their furniture would arrive."

 

3. Should I find another supplier?

 

"Although we bring in our own containers, we also purchase from UK wholesalers. These wholesalers have exclusivity arrangements with the factories, so the retailers are reliant on the wholesaler's stock. If you've been waiting some time for your goods, it means that you are already high up in the queue to receive them. Going to another retailer means that the process will start again and you will be at the bottom of the queue. If any retailer quotes you a quicker delivery than ourselves, please make sure you check that they have the physical stock in their warehouse. If this is not the case, they will not be able to supply the furniture any quicker. Our systems insure that we place orders with suppliers within 24 hours of receiving them from customers."

 

4. Don't use COVID-19 as an excuse, you have had months to get organised.

 

"The effect of COVID-19 in the first lockdown was extremely different to what's happening now. When shops closed at the end of March, wholesalers had very high stock levels because pre-booked containers were arriving and very little furniture was being sold. Many wholesalers stock levels were around 90%.

Nobody knew how sales would be when the shops opened in the middle of May. Having experienced a period that had caused both logistical and financial problems, importers reduced their orders and factory production was affected by COVID-19.

We were amazed that shop sales for furniture increased by around 50%, which puts a huge strain on the supply chain. The factories were inundated with orders, substantially increasing their working hours and output. This Increased the availability of furniture until, in October, the difficulty of shipping first occurred.

One thing that occurred due to COVID-19 in the spring is still affecting shipping. Shipping lines took a number of vessels out of service as there were not enough containers available to be shipped at that time. These ships have not been brought back into use due to the congestion in UK ports."

 

Links

 

"The link below is from BBC Business regarding Felixstowe. Although the BBC mentions one going to Rotterdam, it is common with one of our suppliers having 12 of their containers off loaded there. Unfortunately, there are not enough feeder vessels to transport from Felixstowe to the UK. Importers are having to send lorries to Rotterdam and face bills of an additional $4,000 to sea freight the container to the UK. Rotterdam is now under stain and three shipping lines are now refusing to call into the UK. 11,000 NHS containers have been in Felixstowe for 4 weeks. The demurrage charge on these is £1.1m per day. They are helping block the port."


www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54908129

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54989299

From This is Money dated 19th November. Charges now much higher. - thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8958173/Felixstowe-port-chaos-firms-face-surcharges-containers.html

The Financial Times, 19th of October, early in the problem - www.ft.com/content/cde6efa3-5302-40d6-8ec3-e5434830c343

"We currently (dated 4th December) have 598 pieces of furniture waiting to be shipped from Vietnam. They were meant to be shipped at the end of November but our shipper could not get a shipping date until the 15th of December. The ship was cancelled because it was not allowed into Ho Chi Minh because of congestion. Sea freight on these containers was $1,550 each, $3,100. The next available ship is on the 29th of December but I don't know if there will be any room on it and won't until after the 15th of December. If, as I expect, there is no room, general opinion is that January will be worse and even harder to get bookings.

I have told my agent to offer $10,600.000 per container, $9,050 more than normal to get them on a vessel on in December. This will cost me £7,070 extra per container. Not good but a number of importers and shipping agents believe the price could well reach $14,000 a container. Sounds crazy until you factor in that shipping the shorter distance to Australia already costs $17.000."

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