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As if things weren’t bad enough, now there’s a refrigerator shortage

A stressed-looking appliance salesman
“Sorry, these are all sold already.”
Photo: Greg Ceo (Getty Images)

It all started with the panic-buying back in the early days of quarantine. People were buying a shit-ton of frozen food. But then they discovered they had no room to store it. The solution, for some, was not advanced freezer Tetris, but to buy another freezer.

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“We sold more freezers in two days than we did all of last year,” Steve Sheinkopf, who runs Yale Appliance outside Boston, told NPR.

As the quarantine progressed into summer, people developed more intimate relationships with their refrigerators and the rest of their kitchen appliances. Maybe some of them also watched a bit more HGTV than they had before. Some appliances started breaking down. Others, under so much extra scrutiny, were found old-fashioned or otherwise wanting. Since people weren’t going on vacation anyway, they decided instead to invest in new refrigerators, toasters, microwaves, etc.

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The appliance industry was caught completely unaware. Initially factories had cut back on production because, executives assumed, people wouldn’t want to buy expensive appliances in a recession. Now that they’ve been proven wrong, some experts are warning of backlogs extending into 2021. NPR tried to get in touch with appliance manufacturers to confirm, but most either refused to talk or insisted that everything was going just great.

Appliance store owners and consumers tell another story. Sellers are warning potential buyers to be patient and accept the more limited choices they have right now. They also advise not to count on Black Friday sales since there’s so little available inventory.

The story didn’t mention how appliance repair people have been faring. Now inquiring minds want to know.

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

“Advanced freezer Tetris” - I’m not saying this is the reason, but I posted on a story here back in the early days of lockdown that people needed to be careful how they stacked their freezer. While it’s true that a freezer functions more efficiently when it’s full, you have to be careful not to block the air vents or else you can end up killing the compressor motor. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find at least some of the fridge/freezer demand comes from replacing ones that broke down under improper and excess load.

My own grown kids, who I guess qualify as millennials, never fail to surprise me with how little they paid attention when I tried to teach them adulting skills. I need to start a YouTube channel called “Listen up you little shits”