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Bend businesses hope tight inventory, busy sales balance out by summer’s end

Age-old issue of supply and demand worsens due to COVID-19 challenges

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Some Bend-area businesses are struggling to obtain enough products due to manufacturing plant closures and reductions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As they try to meet customers' needs and desires, they are hoping sales and inventory balance out by the end of summer.

When the pandemic hit, many manufacturing plants shut down for at least two to three months, affecting businesses like car dealerships and furniture stores.

Robberson Ford on Third Street said their car supplies dwindled due to plant shutdowns. Now that manufacturing companies are slowly resuming production, they're faring better, but not up to full speed.

Owner Jeff Robberson said Tuesday they have only about half of the vehicle inventory they would normally stock this time of year. He said they normally sell about 70 cars a month, but product is coming in at a slower rate, limiting the selection on display.

"We don't know with the supply chain, we being Ford, are dependent, like every other manufacturer, on getting our components from other countries," Robberson said. "So if those dry up, it can be an issue. We are working, and our crystal ball is just as clear as mud right now, but we are trying to forecast it and look out right now."

Robberson said he hopes normal operations can be restored by August or September.

Kendall Toyota off South Highway 97 said their inventory is also getting thin. General Manager Jason Wilkinson said at the beginning of the closures, they did a good job stockpiling resources, but have since increased car buying incentives, and they're seeing a record high volume.

He's hoping sales and inventory balance out by the end of summer as well.

"With the incentives that Toyota has, with zero percent (interest) on a lot of vehicles, we are probably down to a two- to three-week supply of new vehicles at this time," Wilkinson said. "So there is a lot of good things and bad, I think. New inventory, we are going to run out, and that is the truth of (it), and we've prepared for it, and so have the manufacturers."

The manager of La- Z- Boy Gallery furniture store on Highway 20 said they had a lot of inventory before the shutdown.

Allen Pieffer said production right now is slow, and they are operating at 45 percent capacity. He said incoming orders are about double what they were, which is pushing production back. Production times for La- Z- Boy have doubled, from four weeks to eight weeks, since the closure.

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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