Coronavirus-related work force issues and an unforeseen foam shortage are affecting businesses across the nation, including those in St. Charles Parish.
Barry Majoria of Majoria’s Grocery Store said while it has gotten easier since the early days of the pandemic, stocking the shelves at his Boutte store is still challenging.
“We have multiple sheets of shorts and out of stocks,” he said. “We buy about three days a week and have dozens of sheets of invoices.”
Majoria said the difficulties in getting supplies like toilet paper and cleaning products – which were nearly impossible to get in the spring of 2020 – have now been replaced with difficulties in getting in other items.
“It’s across the board … some dry goods, dairy and meat … you can hardly get a chicken wing,” he said. “Prices are just out the box. Prices are going up because there are still labor-related issues.”
Majoria said many factories are not rolling at full capacity because of staffing shortages, which adds to sourcing issues. Even still, he said his customers seem to understand that the empty spots on shelves and higher prices are out of his control.
“I think they understand. They’ll come to me and might see something that’s high and then they go down the street and say, ‘Well, maybe you’re not so high,’” he said laughing. “It’s just the nature of the beast right now.”
One major industry feeling the strain of the pandemic, as well as a surprise shortage of foam, is the furniture industry.
“It’s multi-sided,” Michael Haydel of Haydel’s Furniture and Appliances in Norco said. “There’s a lack of personnel and a lack of product.”
He said the problem of a lack of workers in factories was compounded by an increase in demand for furniture as well as a foam production shortage.
“There’s been a huge increase in demand,” Haydel said. “That right there put everything behind. As people found out they’d be working from home and being home more often they wanted new furniture. As it moved on, it became an issue finding materials. The problem right now is that because of the hurricane hitting Lake Charles last year and the freeze in Texas, the chemicals used to make foam are limited.”
Multiple factories that produce foam are not fully back online, Haydel said, which is dragging out wait times for the production of furniture.
“It has not been one segment, but all segments,” Haydel said. “Particularly the living room and bedding sets … those are both affected by the foam shortage.”
Haydel said there has also been delivery issues and cost increases.
“Once the manufacturer finishes making the furniture, they don’t have the trucks or drivers to get the stuff in,” he said, adding the rise in gas prices is also affecting prices.
David Stell Jr. of Stell Furniture in Luling said his plans to open Stell’s Premium Bedding in Boutte’s Village Shopping Center this week hit a major snag when Serta didn’t deliver half of the inventory he needed to complete his showroom.
“The foam shortage is driving the majority of it,” he said. “From what the manufacturers have told us they don’t really have a good handle on it. It’s just the perfect storm … you have the foam shortage and a supply increase since steel and wood prices are going up.”
Stell said he decided to still open his new shop this week, despite some offerings not being delivered yet.
“We ordered those mattresses the first week of May and they told us they’d be in in the middle to the end of June,” he said. “Now they’re telling me August.”