As I mentioned on these pages a few days ago, I am attending a national conference in DC for my company and around 300 of our vendors. As a reminder, I am involved in industrial distribution (actually HVAC distribution, which is a subset of industrial distribution).
I asked the same question of dozens of my top vendors, and it was basically “what issues are you seeing with regards to the production slowdowns in China?”. I left the question open intentionally as I didn’t want to funnel responses.
Almost all of them, as if they rehearsed their responses together, said the following:
We have enough safety stock to get us through the Spring orders and a few months afterward.
We are in constant contact with our Chinese vendors (as if this means anything) and are looking at alternate sources (prices will increase).
There may be shortages on certain items in the future.
I distilled these responses down a bit and thought about it and I think that there will be some supply chain issues, and there may be some opportunities. One vendor remarked that once Chinese production is fully back on line that there is a container logjam anticipated that might put some orders back several months. The vendors could be giving us the “remain calm” routine to try to keep runs on product to a minimum, but the demand in HVAC just isn’t there right now, as we are firmly in “shoulder” season. Shoulder season is Spring and Fall, where there aren’t too many emergencies, unless you live in the commercial world, where everything is an emergency.
Not much more outside of these comments was related to me and I think they are for the most part telling the truth. I guess we will know in a few months. If we start out Spring with some hot weather like in 2018, we could start to see some relationships tested.