IKEA product shortages: what's happening to the retail giant's supply chain?

Ikea stores are experiencing product availability disruptions on both sides of the Atlantic

IKEA store, Giltbrook Retail Park, Nottinghamshire, England, UK
(Image credit: Martyn Williams / Alamy Stock Photo)

IKEA is experiencing product shortages on both sides of the Atlantic, with some product lines out of stock. Some shoppers, especially those based in the UK, may have noticed a low availability of mattresses. Meanwhile, on its US website, Ikea advises that 'due to system updates and high demand, there is a chance an item with low stock may not be available for purchase.'

IKEA has been a worldwide favorite for affordable and durable furniture for decades, and IKEA hacks are increasingly used by savvy home decorators for achieving stylish look for less. What is happening to the flatpack giant's supply chains?

IKEA product shortages in the US

Container ship with cranes at a harbor with Nixes Mate and Boston Lighthouse in the background, Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor

(Image credit: Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo)

On its US website, IKEA simply refers to 'supply delays due to COVID-19' as the reason for any product availability disruptions. Specifically, in the US there is a significant problem with major ports being overwhelmed by large amounts of cargo coming in, to the points where, as an article in Bloomberg puts it, there are 'queues of anchored ships  and yards of containers piled as high as local fire departments will allow.'

This is a structural problem that has been really exposed by the increased amount of goods being shipped during the pandemic as consumer demand soars. IKEA is looking for road solutions to this problem of sea cargo, explaining that 'we will use rail transport from China to Europe to free up container capacity that we can use to ship more to US.'

IKEA product shortages in the UK

British truck drivers waiting in front of lorries at parking

(Image credit: Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo)

In the UK, the problem is similarly linked to transportation, but the exact reason is quite different. The UK is experiencing a severe shortage of lorry drivers which has been affected everything from medical supplies to food supplies. IKEA has been affected substantially, with product shortages affecting approximately 1,000 of the company's lines, or 10 per cent of its stock. 

IKEA told the BBC: 'What we are seeing is a perfect storm of issues, including the disruption of global trade flows and a shortage of drivers, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit.' 

The retailer giant's apology came with the hope that the situation will improve 'in the coming weeks and months.' For the time being, you may have to look for the best mattress elsewhere. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening.

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