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From major appliances to lumber to the smallest pieces of pipe, items needed to build or fix up homes have become tortuously hard to come by as the global supply chain issues drag on.’s data team decided to take a deep dive into what’s causing the Great Slowdown, which includes some insight from Zonda’s Ali Wolf, and specific items that are most affected by the congested supply chain, including lumber, appliances, paint, and furniture.

So what’s going on? What we found was a perfect storm of issues, exacerbated by COVID-19. Many companies around the world, unsure of how the pandemic would affect buyer behavior, scaled back on production and laid off workers early on. Others were affected by stay-at-home orders and sick workers. But as lockdowns forced more people to remain in their houses, many folks, instead of buying less, bought more as they upgraded their homes or sought larger ones.

“As people spent more time at home, they started to buy more things—from electronics to art supplies,” says Wolf, chief economist of building consultancy Zonda. “The change in consumer behavior came while factories were dealing with COVID outbreaks, limited access to raw materials, temporary shutdowns, and a labor shortage.”

While factories have largely reopened and been ramping up production, supply chain bottlenecks have meant it’s been much harder to get items to the U.S. And what does make it through the ports has become more expensive. A shortage of shipping containers plus tariffs on goods is causing delays and making things pricier for consumers. Meanwhile, a lack of workers at ports and drivers to get the items to their final destinations is further slowing things down.

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