This has been an extremely weird year, as I’m sure no one would argue. It has affected so many businesses and lives in so many ways. The massage chair industry is no exception. The positive for our industry is that since less people are going to their regular massage therapist, manual therapist, or chiropractor, more folks are buying massage chairs. The negative is mostly found in logistics.
When the Covid-19 pandemic all started, there was a huge concern about getting products made and then on to freight ships and out of China. China is where the components of the majority of chairs are made (except for US-made Luraco chairs) and where Covid first put a stranglehold on the commerce of that country. Then there was concern about being able to deliver the chairs, once they arrived here, especially for in-home delivery & setup (aka white glove delivery) because white glove agents were not delivery into customer’s homes. We still struggle with the lack of white glove agents and the delays in shipping because of the shortage of trucks to meet the increase demand for product.
Currently, there are concerns with getting products out of the Port of Long Beach, which is where all the chairs first arrive when coming to the US. This is particularly frustrating because the chairs have arrived to US waters but are stuck out at sea, thanks to a Covid-related shortage of trucks and truck drivers to move the containers out of the Port and to the warehouses of the companies that distribute them. The bottom line is that the back-ordered chairs purchased as Christmas gifts, will most likely not arrive by the 25th of December.
We have been waiting on some back-ordered chairs to arrive for over 2 months and, now that they are in US waters, the chairs can’t get out to the port and through customs promptly. Again, because of the shortage of trucks to haul the product to the various US destinations. One of my massage chair customers, who lives in Newport Beach, told me a couple of days ago that he can look out at the Pacific Ocean from his home and see ships lined up waiting to get into the port. Once they actually do get to the port, we have been told that there is currently a 1-2 week wait to get containers out of the port on trucks. It has just been a fiasco. As one associate expressed it, “it feels like everything is out of balance.” I thought that was a great way to describe this current climate.
I also recently heard from one of our suppliers that shipments of the new Covid vaccine have taken up more of the remaining available trucks, further depleting freight resources for container transport. This is a whole new wrinkle to affect the logistics chain, albeit a worthy one considering the precious vaccine cargo. But, generally speaking, it’s a pretty messed up logistics chain.
All of this “out of balance” new normal is a perfect storm that is leading to an increase in the cost of shipping. As a matter of fact, we learned this week that as a result of the increased shipping costs Ogawa/Cozzia/JPMedics has announced that beginning on February 1st, 2021, they will be increasing our costs 3% to cover the increased cost of shipping/logistics. And, of course, that most likely means paying more at check out. Increased product orders (demand), decreased truck availability to ship that product, and a decrease in the number of white glove agents going into the customer’s homes is creating a price increase…Economics 101.
So, getting back to massage chair logistics…if you are expecting a back-ordered massage chair by Christmas (or even by the end of 2020, for that matter), you may not be so lucky to get it by the 25th or the 31st. Current models we are waiting for include the Daiwa Supreme Hybrid, the JPMedics Kumo, the Infinity Imperial, the Panasonic MAJ7, and the Panasonic MA73. These are all popular models. At the time of this writing, we learned that the Infinity Imperial has actually arrived at their warehouses and Infinity is earnestly working to release that inventory for shipment to their final destinations this week. Finally some good news for our customers! Reports of the other models arriving this week are expected. But, you might just have to put something else under the tree until the chair comes.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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