If you’re a retailer planning to make up for the pandemic by opening or remodeling stores in 2021, you need to ask yourself a single question … Did you order your fixtures three months ago? If not, 2021 isn’t likely to be your makeup year. The pandemic introduced unprecedented challenges into the fixture marketplace, challenges likely to be with us for a while. A year or two ago, the path from market research to new stores was well established, the timing predictable, and the project plan tested and proven. Securing and installing fixtures was, in most cases, a manageable process that depended on primarily on identifying a reliable source and ordering on time.
Fixture manufacturers or distributors could fulfill your orders in eight weeks, sometimes less. If you wanted to be safe, you may have left twelve weeks to provide you with time to address any unanticipated issues. Unfortunately, applying this well-established approach in 2021 presents a variety of new and frustrating challenges. The primary challenge is availability. What this means is, if you order fixtures in the next couple of weeks, you should have them well before the holiday season, or more specifically, you should have them in time for the 2022 holiday season.
No, that’s not a typo. If you order your fixtures now, it’s entirely possible you won’t get them until mid or late 2022. Major fixture manufacturers, assuming they’re willing to accept your order, are currently quoting delivery dates in June of 2022. What does this mean? It means that existing planning and forecasting processes are no longer adequate for the task.
To address these new challenges, retailers must, at a minimum:
- Engage fixture and facilities personnel in long-term strategic planning;
- Contact manufacturers and distributors to gain as much information as possible regarding backlogs and delivery dates;
- Order early; and
- Explore alternative approaches to securing the fixtures you need
If you’d like additional information about the planning process, the state of the market, the availability of fixtures, and alternatives, please give us a call.