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Pandemic produces appliance shortage

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- The appliance industry isn't one expected to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but walking into an appliance store will tell a different story.

When the pandemic started and people started stocking up on food, they bought up much of the supply of freezers and refrigerators nationwide.

"People just started buying them up like crazy. We sold like 20 in a week where normally that would take us like three weeks, maybe four. Now we've got between 80 and 90 ordered and 35 to 40 are already sold," said Adam Morris, owner of People's Appliance in Waterloo.

Factories were forced to slow production or stop altogether at times due to the pandemic. With the extra purchases of consumers on top of the slowed production, warehouses emptied out at an alarming rate.

"We built on our warehouse in 1994 and I've never seen it so bare," he said.

Morris said they still do repairs on appliances, especially those they sell. The business has seen their repair orders sky rocket as people opt to repair instead of replace.

"We're seeing a lot more service because people can't get the product. So when somebody's getting the $300-400 repair bill, they're fixing it because they can't wait 4,5,6 or 8 weeks for a fridge, especially this time of year," he said.

It's mainly fridges and freezers in short supply for small businesses and the big box stores. However, other appliances like stove and laundry sets are disappearing from the showroom floors.

"Really because people are home a lot more and using them a lot more. Instead of being home 8 hours a day, they're home 20 hours a day or more. Just using things a lot more is going to take its toll."

Morris said they try to help people as much as they can, include possibly loaning the customer something while their appliance is out of service.

He added they have been in touch with manufacturers when appliances might return to normal supply, but they haven't heard much.

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Collin Dorsey

Noon & 5 p.m. Anchor

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