Tough times for gearheads and pretty much anyone shopping for manufactured goods. The corona pandemic has messed up much of the Just-In-Time delivery method by which most companies and shops operate. That explains why many shops, brick-and-mortar or online, are increasingly out of stock on popular goods like musical instruments and audiovisual devices. And customers end up on waiting lists to purchase the products they desire, often at increased prices. Let’s look at the how, what, and why.
Covid-19 Is The Culprit
Just-in-time delivery, or JIT, is a manufacturing system in which manufacturers order components or materials just before they are needed to produce their goods, to avoid stock and costs related thereto. This was the go-to method for most manufacturers.
The CoVID pandemic messed up this well-oiled mechanism in two ways. On the one hand, many factories were forced shut by government regulations. On the other hand, demand boomed with people spending more time at home and deciding to redo their living room or start a new hobby, like learning to play a new instrument or creating sound effects with digital recording tools.
The Music Industry Suffers the Consequences of the Shipping Container Crisis
The uncanny surge in customer demand and the need for components from overseas has created a true shipping container crisis. As in, there simply aren’t enough around. The result is that a 12-meter container shipped from China to Europe now costs up to $14,000, instead of the $2,100 it cost before the pandemic.
This situation started with the pandemic and does not show any sign of improvement for 2022. Musical instrument manufacturers have to deal with daily supply chain disruptions, leading e.g., guitar manufacturers to sit with a load of guitars ready to be shipped off, but waiting for a delivery of guitar strings to arrive before they can do so. It’s one bottleneck after the other.
High Demand Is Good for the Industry
It’s not bad news for everyone. Higher customer demand means increased sales, which is a good thing for the music industry. For example, American guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender enjoyed an increase in sales of around 30%. Competitor Paul Read Smith recorded about a 20% increase in their sales.
High demand is good for the industry. It’s not so good for the customers. Higher demand means higher prices and customers will feel it in their wallets if they intend on purchasing recording gear or musical instruments. And that goes for many other industries as well. The consumer price index which measures changes in the cost of many consumer goods was at a 40-year high in January 2022. Is it going to drop any time soon? Don’t count on it. Setting up a spending plan, seeing what you can save on, and prioritizing your purchases is the best solution in times of inflation.