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Shoppers turn to secondhand sources as patio furniture shortage drives up prices

The pandemic increased demand for outdoor furniture and led to competition as restaurants scrambled for more outdoor seating.

SEATTLE — A summer staple is the latest industry facing a shortage right now. The shortage is starting to affect the price you pay for patio furniture.

The pandemic gave a huge bump in demand for outdoor furniture, as more people were gathering outdoors. However, it led to some competition as restaurants were also scrambling for more outdoor seating.

Now, because of shipping delays and labor shortages, some furniture makers say could be 2022 or even 2023 before you get what you ordered.

Natalie Angelillo, vice president of community and communications at Bellevue-based OfferUp, said this has led to more people turning to second-hand retailers instead.

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"Anytime there is seasonal demand, anytime there is a shortage, and then you layer in people's changing interests in their footprint on the environment, we see search spikes in furniture of all kinds," said Angelillo.

"Anything for the outdoors is super popular and has been for a while," she added.

It wasn't just patio furniture. New data from OfferUp shows furniture sales as a whole are up more than 35% in the past year on the app. To put that into perspective, one in five people shopped on OfferUp in 2020.

Angelillo agreed the convenience factor of using an on-demand marketplace helped bring more people to shop for used goods, instead of waiting for weeks, even months.

"Instead of waiting 12 weeks to buy a brand new couch that needs to be created, with these shortages down the line, that couch probably exists on OfferUp already and you can go and look for it and maybe buy it from your neighbor," she said.

There are some other ways to get around shipping delays, but you'll have to be strategic to get what you want.

  • When picking out furniture, be flexible on style and color
  • Ask to buy the floor model
  • Ask what product is available at the local warehouse
  • Shop at a used furniture store or thrift store