A period of rapid inflation seems like a bad time to buy anything that isn’t strictly necessary, and that would normally be the case. But these are not normal times. Even as the price of gas, milk and other must-haves goes up and up, costs for many discretionary products, particularly home goods, are likely to decrease dramatically. Here’s why:
The pandemic was a very bad time to make any kind of big-ticket purchase, not that it stopped anyone. Consumers went on a fiscally stimulated shopping spree, even as supply chain breakdowns meant everything from couches to bicycles were backordered or delayed by months. With demand that high, virtually everything sold at full price or above.
In response, retailers ordered mass shipments of those products, most of them related to the home — chaise lounges, exercise equipment, big screen TVs — shifting from a “just-in-time” inventory model to an overstocked “just in case” approach. But as the supply chain unsnarled, all of that inventory landed in their warehouses just as inflation began to shift consumer spending habits away from such discretionary purchases.
People stop buying outdoor pizza ovens when gas is $5 a gallon. Which means retailers are now stuck with way too much of the bulky stuff which costs them a lot of money to store. So much, in fact, that they’re considering doing away with return policies, and just letting customers keep the items they don’t want — for free.
The long and short of it is that everyone from Target and Home Depot to Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware are more than likely going to be forced to offload that excess inventory at steep discounts. Hence, effectively, deflation for a broad swath of products, even amidst a period of rapid inflation.
The home goods boom may be over but for anyone who’s been waiting to deck out their new place, or fix up their old one — your time has come.