Weeks after the first containers of product containing PVC were first detained at U.S. ports as part of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) crackdown, some flooring retailers say they are just now feeling the effects of LVT shortages.
“We’re beginning to see lengthy backorders already and don’t expect things to improve anytime soon,” said Scott Browne, president of Macco’s Floor Covering Center, Green Bay, Wis., and Hadinger Flooring, Fort Myers, Fla. “Our team has worked with our mill partners to create a go-to list of products that are either stocked heavily or domestically produced. We’re also offering options in laminate, specifically laminate products that are made in the U.S.”
Similar experiences were found elsewhere as LVT inventory levels begin to wane. “We’re now experiencing delays and having conversations with our suppliers about what to do,” said Adam Joss, owner of The Vertical Connection Carpet One, Columbia, Md. “It happened quickly.”
However, other dealers said they have not been impacted as of yet, but they are ready to pivot to other products should the forced labor act siphon off LVT supply. “Key suppliers of ours had given us the heads up a couple months ago [about the detention of containers],” said Craig Phillips, president and CEO of The Flooring Edge, with three Ohio businesses. “We stay in close contact with them on the latest developments and we’ve taken steps to beef up our inventory of key items. We hope that in the event of some product availability issues, having alternatives on hand may prove vital to closing sales.”
Matt Wien, owner of Marshall Flooring in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, said he started receiving notifications from certain vendors requesting that he switch customers to different options based on extended lead times for some LVT SKUs. “The pandemic, thankfully, has prepared us for this as we’ll focus more on materials that are currently in stock and available,” Wien explained. “There are a number of companies that have plenty of good stock across their lines and they’ll be rewarded for their foresight.”
Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus ColorTile, Venice, Fla., is being similarly rewarded for getting out in front of the issue—even if it was a bit fortuitous. “We were fortunate enough to order—and already have received shipments—of more than 30 stocking pallets of LVT, which we did at our [Alliance Flooring] convention,” said Mike Montgomery, co-owner. “We didn’t know about the shutdown or slow down at that time; we were just fortunate. We have enough inventory for ongoing projects to cover the next four to five months of work. Luckily, we have the money and space.”
Although the slowdown hasn’t quite reached the doorstep of Charles F. Zeigler & Sons, the Hanover, Pa.-based retailer has been making contingency plans. “When possible, we have been steering away from any Chinese products,” said Bill Zeigler, co-owner. “All we can do is hope we can fill the orders when they come in.”
According to manufacturing executives close to the situation, no shipments have been released as of April 13, and it appears this logjam could last several months unless (or until) U.S. Customs and Border Patrol eases up on its strict burden-of-proof measures.