KANSAS CITY, MO—Although several appliance manufacturing plants have resumed production in the last few months, a nationwide shortage remains, forcing retailers and repair shops to scramble to meet demand.

Brian Pippen owns Appliance Care Company in Belton, MO, and says he's had customers waiting for months for new appliances and parts. "When we see zeros all the way down the board, and it says out of stock, we already know it’s on a national backorder," says Pippen.

As Pippen understands it, the shortage is happening because ports are closed or reduced in activity due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is keeping cargo ships from China and Korea waiting offshore. “We have [many] customers that are waiting for parts to be delivered to us that are on a national backorder, and only God knows when we’re going to receive them," says Pippen.

Sandy Tau owns AHC Appliances in Long Island. After 25 years in the industry, she has never seen such a backlog. "We have freezers that are on backorder since the end of March that have still not come in," notes Tau. "This business was started by my father-in-law in the '60s. And one of the things that he used to say was it was a lot easier back then because you really didn't have too many choices. Well, we're kind of back to that. We don't have too many choices."

“The primary reason for [the limited supply of appliances] is certain appliance parts are manufactured by a handful of manufactures overseas, Asia specifically,” says Jon Gadbois, vice president of marketing for Furniture and Appliance Mart.

In addition, parts that are created overseas are hard to come by. These parts include compressors for refrigerators and freezers.