While supply disruption swirls around the photographic market at present, one certainty is that we are now in a seller’s market, with demand for popular cameras and lenses outstripping supply, and punishing increases in shipping costs adding to the pressure on prices.
Supply constraints, particularly for popular new releases, are widespread judging by the number of products this year which have been announced before a follow up announcement that someone mucked up demand forecasts (I made that bit up) and supply will be limited/non existent/we’ll get back to you.
Canon has announced that for something like 20 new products, including the Canon EOS R3 and a bevy of RF lenses, ‘it will take some time before delivery’ due to greater demand than expected.
The Nikon Z fc, Fujifilm’s GFX 100S, Canon’s R5 and R3 and the Sony’s Alpha 1 among camera bodies on backorder, according to US news aggregation site, Petapixel.
However, some of the products unavailable in the US market seem to be available here: just because B&H doesn’t have it, don’t assume it can’t be tracked down online or even in-store at a DigiDirect or a Camera House.
The leading Australian distributor to the photographic market in Australia, CR Kennedy & Co, has already flagged a change of approach in response to the tightening of supply, which managing director, Malcolm Kennedy, ascribes to: a worldwide shortage of computer chips due to Covid supply disruption; huge increase in logistics costs due to worldwide container shortage, plus a massive increase in airfreight costs due to reduced capacity and; price increases from major suppliers.
He announced that CR Kennedy would be increasing prices across the board from January 1 next year.
‘This year it is not a question of price, but rather a question of supply; of actually being able to source what you want and in time.’
‘CRK will not be participating in any BLACK FRIDAY / CYBER MONDAY sales. Our current prices are the most competitive. In addition, we are facing stock shortages across the board. Accordingly, BUY NOW at best competitive prices,’ he told Inside Imaging.
‘This year it is not a question of price, but rather a question of supply; of actually being able to source what you want and in time,’ he explained.
While CR Kennedy supplies a huge portfolio of around 80 brands to the enthusiast and professional photography segments and prolabs, PROtog is a smaller distributor of a range of photography accessories and studio lighting and equipment to professional resellers and specialist photo retailers. PROtog managing director Jeff Servaas also told Inside Imaging he will be passing on Black Friday sales promotions this year, largely due to the same issues outlined by Malcolm Kennedy.
He acknowledged supply was tight, noting PROtog had also experienced ‘longer production lead times from several suppliers as they battle with component supply issues.’
He also indicated there were pressures on prices. ‘We issued price rises earlier in the year on several of our brands, and based on further cost increases we will need to issue another price increase,’ he said.
Nonetheless, he said, ‘we are tracking along well, despite the wildcards being dealt on a regular basis!’ and said that that there did seem to be a strong current demand for photographic gear: ‘Despite extended lockdowns, people continue to spend money.
‘Maybe the funds that were unable to be used for a holiday are being diverted into extra gear.’
He tipped that 2022 might see more local disruption compounding the global supply issues: ‘My further thoughts are that with an already tight labour market, we will see further cost increases locally.
‘Here in Victoria as of last Friday, the labour force had an immediate contraction as the percentage of the labour force that have elected not to vaccinate are no longer allowed to attend work. This cuts across all industries including retail stores, warehousing, and transport. With staff shortages, orders will take longer to be processed and fulfilled.
‘Even before Friday we were seeing strikes at the ports and courier companies as they campaigned for larger wage increases. I predict we will continue to see disruption to the supply chain locally into 2022.’
Camera House, the largest specialist chain in Australia, says it’s in good shape in spite of supply constraints: ‘We’ve been planning for this eventuality for some time. We have good stocks currently and very good allocations through the peak selling period and into 2022,’ said Camera House-Raleru managing director, David Burlew.
‘We have been working upstream with our suppliers with solid demand forecasting in the previous two quarters and downstream with the stores to ensure the stores are also holding a few extra weeks inventory.
He anticipated price rises sooner rather than later: ‘We have already been advised of pricing increases from some of our larger suppliers (effective December 1st, 2021).
‘I would be surprised given increasing transport costs, freight fuel surcharges and pent up demand if prices did not increase during the peak selling period. I would recommend consumers either purchase early, or place deposits on future orders to secure current pricing,’ he said.
‘I’m very upbeat on the demand for the balance of 2021 and beyond. The recent experience in the re-opening of the Sydney metro market reinforces in my mind that bricks and mortar retailing is alive and well.
‘We have seen a significant lift in sales in this market and across NSW in general. With state borders opening, business and leisure travel resuming, I see the market rebounding strongly.’