Shopping for appliances right now isn’t as easy as it usually is. That’s due to pandemic-related manufacturing delays and increased demand as well as other supply chain snafus affecting large appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and oven ranges.
Fortunately, armed with a few simple shopping tips, you can get the appliances that you want when you want them.
The first step is knowing where to shop. If you need a replacement on your appliances right now, Consumer Reports said to head to an independent dealer first. These stores can often match big-box prices and have a supply that’s at least as good as what the major chains have.
There’s added perks to shopping local too. For instance, because they typically don’t depend on third-party delivery services, independent dealers can offer perks like in-house service or a loaner while you wait for your new machine.
Jack Eisentrager, president of Dunnett Appliance & Mattress in Bangor, said that his store has offered loaners, but supplies are generally limited.
“We’ve helped people out, but I don’t have 20 loaners out if people start calling,” Eisentrager said.
At independent stores, you can also negotiate on other aspects of your purchase, such as fees for delivery, installation and disposal and associated parts like hoses and electric cords.
“Some of our independents are doing that,” said Ken Miele, CEO of Appliance Dealers Cooperative in New Jersey, which distributes appliances from manufacturers to 210 independent retailers, mainly on the East Coast. “Our guys want the business, so they’re going to make sure the customers are happy.”
If you prefer to shop at a major chain, though, look online first. Search tools on big box store websites let you quickly find what’s in stock locally and available for delivery now. But make sure that information is accurate. Eisentrager said to make sure you call local stores to see if they actually have the product in stock.
“A lot of times people go online and see this stuff and assume you have it,” Eisentrager said. “There’s no guarantee that that product is in stock.”
Wherever you shop, try to be flexible.
“Check with your sales associate with other options that might be close,” Eisentrager said. “There might be something else similar in a different brand or within that same brand that’s something similar. Leaving the options open more instead of settling on one appliance will sometimes open options for the customer. Talk with sales representatives and see what we have and the issue you have.”
If you can wait for your appliance and have your heart set on a particular one, though, Eisentrager said to get on an independent dealer’s waiting list as soon as possible.
“The longer you wait, the longer you’re further down the line to get it,” Eisentrager said.
Some chains, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, will also let you set up email notifications for when your preferred appliance is finally back in stock.
Finally, don’t expect prices to drop any time soon. David MacGregor, an appliance-industry analyst at Longbow Research based in Cleveland, Ohio, predicts that availability issues will extend through the end of 2021.
“I think we’re a few months away from seeing this start to get better product availability,” Eisentrager said. “We’re coming into summertime, which typically is the busiest season for appliances. Weaker refrigerators will die during summertime because they’re stressed. There’s still a lot of houses being built. If we see any kind of slow down it will be pushing into the later fall.”