Why You Won’t Find Any Labor Day Blowout Sales for Cars and Appliances This Year

By Paul Riegler on 6 September 2020
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But where will I put all my Norwegian water?

Labor Day. One’s thoughts run to barbecues, beach, and blowout sales at appliance stores and car dealerships.

Something is missing, however, this year, namely those loud, boisterous commercials by car dealers and appliance salesmen touting never-before-seen savings.  As a result, car and appliance buyers are in for a disappointment.

In recent months, car sales are down some 20% but prices are setting records despite the slowdown.

The situation is a bit different for appliance sales.  There appears to be a nationwide appliance shortage, especially for refrigerators, freezers, and ranges, washing machines, and dryers.

Last year, GE Appliances, one of the nation’s largest appliance manufacturers, offered promotional pricing on over 330 items.  This year it’s more like 25, and washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers aren’t even among the 25.

As a result stores that specialize in major appliances aren’t even bothering to run Labor Day ads advertising specials, primarily because there are none.  The shortage is largely due to the fact that the pandemic has brought warehouse operations down to 50% of normal capacity and some have been closed for weeks at a time if an employee becomes infected.

Meanwhile, car dealerships normally offer blowout pricing in order to clear out the previous year’s models. This year, that won’t be the case, as cars are selling for more than ever.

The average new vehicle sold in August cost a record $35,420, according to research firm J.D. Power, which tracks such information, and prices were creeping up even before the pandemic made it to these shores. Low-interest loans are helping auto buyers purchase more expensive vehicles with lower monthly payments to boot.

While many car buyers might drive away with a vehicle this weekend, should they choose to make a purchase, that won’t be the case for appliance buyers.  They should expect weeks of waiting, something that won’t be evident from a store’s website.  Instead, buyers should pay attention to the delivery date that appears once an item is in the shopping cart, as it may be far off into the future.

The situation is even worse for appliance buyers who require a new major appliance such as a refrigerator immediately.  FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira recently dodged a bullet when he thought his GE Monogram bottom-freezer refrigerator was on the blink.  After some troubleshooting, it turned out that all that needed to be replaced was an inexpensive thermometer that stopped working, but he nonetheless conducted numerous searches for equivalent or near-equivalent models in case his were to simply stop working, and found out that the soonest delivery would be at least two to three weeks away.

Home Depot, which is currently advertising up to 40% off on refrigerators, shows an LG four-door French door refrigerator labeled as a “special buy” on sale for $1,998, a 31% discount. The catch?  It can’t be delivered until October 9, 2020.

Other refrigerators had similar or longer wait times.

Home Depot had not responded to an e-mailed request to comment at the time of publication.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)