Furniture Lead Times – Why the Wait?


And what you can do to avoid getting hit by significant delays in the office furniture world.

There are shortages in almost every area of the global supply chain. Whether it is toilet paper or electronic chips in new printers, or even (you guessed it) commercial furniture, supply chain delays are limiting the ease of access to consumer goods which we have been used to. 

Here at Office Interiors, we understand your frustration – few things are worse than seeing your new office space come together, only to watch weeks pass while waiting for your furniture to arrive. 

What used to take five to seven weeks lead time (the time it takes to place your order until it arrives at your doorstep) can now be as long as 20 weeks.

So, why the wait? 

Let’s look at what’s causing the horrific delays and learn what the experts are saying about supply chain issues.

While it might seem like we’ve finally outlived the pandemic, the supply chain continues to be affected by challenges related to COVID-19. Each day comes news of choked ports, out-of-place shipping containers, record freight rates, and other problems that cause disruption and defy easy answers.

1.     Lack of consistency in operating capabilities due to lockdowns and illnesses 

According to Forbes, factories are still unable to operate at full capacity due to their staff falling ill from the virus. Ports are congested with boats awaiting offloading, road transportation equipment is often unavailable, and labour shortages impair the ability to transport products from ships to warehouses and stores. Most trucks that arrive at retail warehouses are often overloaded with items, resulting in a build-up of products that are not in demand and a lack of products that are high in demand.

2.     Mispredicted fall in consumer demand 

At the start of the pandemic, many companies cut production schedules in anticipation of lower consumer demand, according to Peter Goodman of The New York Times. As consumers stockpiled, made DIY home improvements, and experimented with new ways to function during a lockdown, demand for most companies skyrocketed.

It was no different in the office furniture world – for many of our clients, finding the perfect at-home task chair or height adjustable desks was vital to creating a functional ‘work-from-home’ space. Meanwhile, companies took the opportunity to revamp their offices to prepare for a post-pandemic corporate world.

At Office Interiors, we saw the demand boom firsthand; now, we’re seeing the adverse effects of manufacturers cutting back production levels.

Furthermore, The New York Times report states that many goods are interdependent: one factory may run at full capacity but cannot continue operation until another factory abroad provides materials. For example, our leading suppliers, Haworth and Groupe Lacasse, manufacture their furniture in the US and Canada, respectively, but they are still experiencing delays in the shipment of their raw materials that arrive from around the world.

What Are We Doing to Help?

Here are some ways we’re working toward ensuring you have a great experience every time you place a furniture order with us.

    • Continue to communicate realistic expectations regarding delivery times.
    • Continue to communicate closely with our manufacturers regarding potential delays or shortages.
    • Get newly received furniture to you as quickly as possible while still adhering to our high-quality control standards.
    • Offer temporary solutions whenever possible and in case of delays.

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How Can You Avoid Supply Chain Issues as a Consumer?

With the current state of the supply chain, delays may feel impossible to avoid when furnishing your new office space. In our experience of working with countless clients throughout this crisis, we know that there’s nothing worse than realizing that your space is almost complete, but you’re still waiting for the one ergonomic task chair to pull it all together (or worse yet, your systems furniture is on backorder!)

There is hope; we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate long lead times and ensure that your beautiful new space doesn’t sit empty.

1.     Start Talking About Furniture Ahead of Time

Early planning is essential when designing furniture options. It’s a big part of how users will interact with your space, so it’s never too early to start brainstorming. Aligning the vision of your space with factors such as architecture, furniture designs, and space planning is a smart move. Also, choosing your space’s objectives as early as possible will enable you to better match your furniture package to those goals. The earlier we can finalize that package (and place an order), the sooner we can start bringing in furniture and accessories that fit your needs.

Another advantage of starting the conversation about furniture early is that you can protect your budget and avoid any surprise charges. Throughout 2021 and 2022, we’ve seen manufacturers implement price increases or levy new surcharges in response to soaring shipping costs. By thinking about furniture early, you are more likely to avoid a surcharge or percentage increase.

2.     Order Early — and Don’t Forget to Factor in Storage

Ordering furniture early is a foolproof way of avoiding shipping delays. This way, your project’s raw materials and furniture can traverse factories and cross oceans while your space goes through the pre-install phases, keeping your project on track. When ordering early, remember that some pieces will arrive sooner than expected, so we recommend you budget for extra storage space. Your furniture provider may be able to coordinate storage on your behalf. This will help you avoid having your new furniture delivered to an active construction site where it could be damaged.

Mallory, a Furniture Account Manager at Office Interiors, says, ‘’Build-to-order products are more customized and require longer lead times for delivery – I recommend placing your orders now if you expect to furnish your office space in 2023.”

3.     Consult Your Furniture Provider (That’s Us)

We know that furniture buying can be a stressful process, and that is why we’re here to help! Our team is happy to take the hassle of furniture logistics off your plate. We can work together and create an effective, customized plan for your project that also beats supply chain issues. No two projects are alike, so let’s connect to make a plan that will work for your timeline, budget, and aesthetic preferences.

Parting Words

We hope this blog post has provided insight into the lead times associated with office furniture. If you have any questions or want to discuss a particular item in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact us here

While it might seem like your furniture won’t arrive anytime soon, rest assured knowing that Office Interiors will bring its best efforts towards ensuring customer satisfaction at every step! 

Ahona Saha
Marketing Assistant 
Office Interiors

Read The Office Furniture Buyer's Guide