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blogs / 07 JUL 2021

U.S. Household Goods Challenges: What You Need to Know

Tom Lacey

household goods services

At the start of the pandemic, household goods services across the U.S. either slowed down or stopped completely. As demand continued to build during 2020 and the start of this year, the lack of capacity has only become worse with time, now significantly impacting some organizations’ U.S. mobility programs. Here we discuss the specific household goods challenges that we are currently experiencing, what Cartus is doing to meet these challenges, and key recommendations that organizations can follow to help reduce the impact delays have on their relocation programs.

 To find out more on current U.S. real estate market trends download our white paper, The Unprecedented 2021 Real Estate Market – What It Could Mean for Your Relocation Program.

Current Challenges

As the impact of COVID-19 eases, the household goods industry has seen increasing demand among all customer-types, which has been a major influence on capacity challenges and delays. Indeed both corporate and U.S. military moves that had been on hold during the pandemic are now being implemented. In addition, we are in the middle of peak season, which looks likely to extend through to August and September, further exacerbating delays for relocating employees moving around the country.

The high level of activity in the U.S. real estate market also means that the consumer segment of the household goods industry is extremely busy. Current property market trends are causing relocating employees to adjust their move dates due to quicker home sales, which is proving challenging given the already congested household goods industry.

US Household Goods Primary Image

In some states, including California, delays to household goods services were so significant in June that organizations are unable to relocate employees until July or even later in the year. A contributing factor to these impacted markets is that people are moving out of the area with little return traffic. This in turn has created a secondary challenge—the imbalance between a surplus of containers and other shipping/moving equipment in one area without the need to return them to areas where they are desperately needed.

 Many household goods services have also reported higher-than-normal packing crew labor shortages, including truck drivers. This is largely due to drivers deciding to retire or change job during the pandemic as well as training schools being temporarily closed last year.

In addition to household goods services, delays to international shipments are having a significant impact across U.S. ports on the west coast, with multiple container vessels unable to offload. Read our blog, Global Pandemic: Ongoing Impact on Household Goods Shipments for more

Recommendations for You

  • Preparedness remains key. If your organization has scheduled moves that include household goods services then let your relocation services provider know as early as possible. Currently, we aim to give suppliers three or more weeks’ notice to ensure we build any possible delays into your mobility schedule.

  • Set up your HHG survey as soon as possible and secure moving dates. Set expectations with employees. Relocating employees may have to wait longer for their household goods to arrive and they should be told of this before the move.

  • Ensure your relocation budget reflects potential extra costs. For example, employees who quickly sell their house—owing to the extremely active real estate market—may have to move to temporary accommodation to allow for more time to house hunt.

  • Where possible, try to ensure the information you provide your household goods provider or relocation services provider (if they are managing the process for you) is as accurate as possible. Last minute changes to things like move dates may be difficult to accommodate in the current market.

How Can We Help?

  • We are working closely with our supplier partners to garner on-the-ground information including current capacity levels and specific locations where household goods services are particularly delayed or impacted.

  • We are ensuring our supplier partners are kept up to date with any future moves so they have ample time to prepare and support our clients’ relocating employees.

  • Our Cartus consultants are aware of the current challenges within the household goods industry and are managing expectations when counseling relocating employees.

  • The Cartus MicroMoveSM program is also allowing us to expedite transit times through a more efficient containerization and transportation process for those who have less than 5,000 pounds of household goods.

The Cartus Global Supplier Network is made up of the world’s leading suppliers within their field, including household goods providers, who understand our clients’ mobility needs and the importance of providing total support to the families we help relocate. Cartus will continue to work closely with our selected household goods partners to ensure we minimize the impact this situation may have on our clients and their relocating employees, and will update our clients of any further developments.

Headshot of Blog Author Tom Lacey

Tom Lacey

Supply Chain Director

Tom is Cartus' Supply Chain Director, with more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate relocation industry, along with accounting and finance experience. He manages Cartus’ domestic and international household goods networks.