Garden furniture retailers in the UK have faced unprecedented stock problems this year. The COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, the Suez Canal crisis, and high demand are just some of the factors that have led to fewer choices for buyers.
If you’re shopping for garden furniture but can’t find it in local stores, you may have better chances of finding it online.
Even if some supply problems will likely persist into 2022, you can still shop thousands of garden furniture items online.
Some items may come with an unusually long delivery time, but you still have options, especially when it comes to essential garden furniture.
What’s causing the garden furniture shortage in the UK?
2021 so far hasn’t been an easy year for British garden centres and retailers, many of which have been affected by serious supply issues. Sun loungers, patio sets, and other garden products have been harder to find in shops than normal.
If you’ve been shopping for new garden furniture, you may have faced this problem firsthand. In an online poll posted on The Sun’s website this summer, 72.5% of respondents said that they can’t find what they wanted in stock. Only 4.6% said that what they want is always in stock.
Few if any garden furniture sold in the UK is actually manufactured in the country. In a Birmingham Live article, a representative of the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association, which represents many manufacturers and wholesalers, explained that supply issues between China and the UK are the root of the problem.
More specifically, UK retailers faced a massive increase in the cost of freight prices in 2021 compared to 2020. Because garden furniture tends to be bulky, retailers need plenty of containers to create a sufficient stock for the season. Shortages of shipping containers and the shipping difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a single container costing as much as $17,000 compared to only $1,200 to $1,500 in 2020.
The problem started in November 2020, and it extends to all large items shipped from the Far East, not only garden furniture. But with many families staying at home during the pandemic, garden furniture has been in focus, making shortages all too apparent.
The Suez Canal Crisis earlier in March didn’t make matters any easier as most of the furniture shipped to the UK passes through that waterway. Brexit also caused additional problems and delays because of tariff charges, paperwork, and new regulations.
When things seemed to improve, the worsening Coronavirus pandemic in India complicated matters further, as many UK retailers import wholesale furniture handmade there.
Growing demand for garden furniture
Demand for garden furniture has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as travel restrictions meant many people tried to make the most of their outdoor time at home.
Warmer winters, inflation, and the opportunity that many people had to renovate their homes and gardens while being stuck at home only compounded the problem.
In an article posted on This is Money, an IKEA UK representative said that searchers for IKEA sun loungers increased by 1,364% between March and May 2020 compared to the previous year.
In addition to out-of-stock items, garden furniture buyers may also have to put up with higher prices. These are due to new import costs and the difficulty of stocking furniture from abroad.
Smaller retailers have been especially affected as they don’t have the resources to hold down prices as larger retailers.
Are garden furniture shops open?
Despite stock problems, garden furniture shops in the UK are now open across the country. Some retailers selling outdoor furniture have remained open throughout the pandemic because they were considered essential retailers.
Online retailers are also doing business as usual. However, stock problems have hit online retailers as well, with big names like Argos and John Lewis running low on garden furniture earlier in the season.
At the time of writing, a quick search on Wayfair.co.uk shows that of the 1,422 garden furniture items in the catalog only 509 are in stock. At The Range, out of 644 products, only 243 are in stock. Meanwhile, Argos has a warning on their site saying that “We’re running low on garden furniture.”
Amazon UK seems better stocked with over 4,000 garden furniture items available and quick next-day deliveries on many items for Prime members.
Looking towards the future
Brits have a special relationship with their gardens, with the average UK gardener spending over £9,000 on garden furniture during their lifetime.
But while some garden furniture has been making its way into stores, 2021 hasn’t been the best year to shop for it. It’s not just garden furniture retailers that are having trouble these days.
With UK retailers across sectors warning of stock problems extending into the autumn, there’s a chance you may have to wait a little longer to find the patio set, BBQ, or sun lounger of your dreams.
It may take at least until early next spring for garden furniture retailers to fully replenish their stocks. But while your options may be limited for a while, you can still shop garden furniture online across different styles and price ranges.
Even in the offseason, you may be able to find what you’re looking for—or at least something that comes close to it.