What do toilet paper and freezers have in common? People are stocking up on them.
When people go to the grocery store and see empty shelves in the meat department, they start to feel a food insecurity. This causes people to buy even more meat. Shortages create shortages. This feeling of scarcity has caused people to buy more meat to freeze. People are not only filling their pantry with dry goods, canned goods and essentials, they are stocking their freezers. People are eating more at home now so are not only stocking meat but also stocking frozen meals.
This has caused many people to buy freezers. Demand has spiked faster than supply can keep up and we end up with the current situation – no freezers in stock anywhere. Manufacturers simply cannot keep up. Part of this is the demand but part of this is also a shortage of parts and the constraints manufacturers have on producing in a covid environment. Supply chains for freezers, just like for food, are also impacted by covid. Getting parts, transporting product, and even changing where product is sold impacts availability. More people are buying freezers online, but this is a different channel that takes time to set up and implement.
Freezer shipments for the month of March, 2020 were up 45 percent over the same period in 2019, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Frozen food sales skyrocketed, too; in fact, American Frozen Food Institute figures show a sales increase of 94 percent in March compared with a year ago.
According to Jim Estill, Danby Appliance CEO, “Freezers are selling so fast, we do not even know what the demand will ultimately be”. “The lowly freezer has now become sexy”. “We have a lineup of customers wanting to stock our freezers that never would have considered selling freezers. Places like hardware stores and grocery stores now want to sell freezers.”
Statistica places the number of households with stand alone freezers at 32%. Estill of Danby Appliances thinks that number will move to more than 50% over the coming months if it has not moved there already. “It all depends on when production can catch up to demand”. “Once people have the convenience of a freezer, it is unlikely they will revert to not having one.”
According to Danby Appliance’s Estill, “Freezers were a slow growth category – mostly a replacement market. Now, the market is exploding. We track home gardening and hunting since both of those categories are freezer buyers. And both of those are seeing a surge.”
Estill said “The replacement market was mostly fueled by appliances approaching their end of life. Interestingly, people can actually pay for a replacement freezer through reduced energy consumption is the freezer is over 7-8 years old. I bought my mother one and posted copies of her electricity bills showing the savings which were even more dramatic than I would have thought.”
What are the trends in freezers? Prior to the pandemic, there was an increasing trend to upright freezers. They are easier to organize than a traditional chest freezer but they do cost more per cubic foot. Chest freezers have the advantage that every cubic inch is usable space where the upright freezer loses some space to shelving. In the event of a power failure, chest freezers keep food frozen for 2-3 days compared to uprights that usually keep food good for only a day.
There is also a trend to smaller stand alone freezers. Gone are the days where a chest freezer is huge and heavy. Small chest freezers are a huge trend. There are many freezers available from as small as 3.5 cubic ft. According to Estill, “a 3.5 cubic foot freezer can be carried by one person and is small enough to fit even in a small apartment”. “They hold a surprising amount of food”.
There is a trend towards freezers going in garages. Customers need to make sure they buy a garage ready freezer. These are specially designed to work in the cold and heat in a garage. That said, there are still temperature limits to freezers so check that before you buy.
There is a trend towards single people and couples having stand alone freezers now as well, and it is not unusual for families to have more than one freezer too.
Just like covid, there is likely to be a second wave of freezer purchases. Home gardening is through the roof, and when garden produce is harvested, the simplest way to store it is in a freezer. A greater worry about food will also increase hunting which drives more purchases. Leading companies, like Danby, are preparing for even greater demand, but may not be able to keep up with the rocketing demand from consumers.
So, in short, if you are interested in having a freezer, it is best to get your order in now to beat the second surge.