IKEA furniture shortage creates challenges for returning students

Global shipping issues and high demand led to product scarcity in Montreal’s outlet

The world’s largest furniture retailer does not have enough supply to match the demand that comes with the start of the academic year, with many of its mattresses, sofas, beds, and kitchen items out of stock since mid-August.

For some Concordia students returning to Montreal, the move-in process has been more challenging than usual, as the supply issue continues as of the second week of university classes.

Luna Ferrari, a third-year communications student from Italy, has had to rely on her family as a temporary solution, due to missing a bed and a mattress for her downtown apartment.

“I am lucky that my uncle lives in Montreal, so I could stay at his house while the products I wanted were sold out. I didn’t want to spend 100 dollars on an inflatable mattress — which is something that my roommates had to do since they had no other choice,” said Ferrari.

When the student went to IKEA in person one week after an unsuccessful online order, she ended up buying just a kitchen table and a rug, as her other preferred items were still unavailable.

IKEA Canada told The Concordian that its low stock availability is the result of its disrupted supply chain due to COVID-19. Since 2020, the transportation of goods by sea has been unreliable as port closures and cargo ship standstills significantly delayed the delivery process.

“In addition, at IKEA, we are seeing higher customer demand as more people are spending increased time at home. […] We want to thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we work with suppliers to restock their favourite IKEA products,” stated Lisa Huie, the public relations leader of IKEA Canada.

The company has bought its own shipping containers and is chartering additional vessels in an effort to reduce delivery times and meet the historically high demand. IKEA also began transporting its products by transcontinental rail from China, all the way to Europe, to avoid a production crisis.

Montreal is not the only region experiencing such shortages: up to 10 per cent of all furniture items were also out of stock in Ireland and the U.K. as of Sept. 9. Despite the company’s efforts to resolve the global issue, university students continue to feel the impact.

Ferrari explained that, “The problem is not the lack of options in general, but the lack of affordable options. As students, we all have similar budgets, so we all want to buy the same products that would look nice for our apartments while also not being very expensive. It was frustrating to visit a store that I personally like and then leave almost empty-handed.”

The student decided to purchase a bed via Amazon for the first time, which was delivered to her doorstep in just three days. While feeling relieved about finally having a place to sleep in her new home, Ferrari said that balancing studies with furniture shopping has been “nothing but a stressful experience.”


Photo by Catherine Reynolds.

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