Seriously, why are chairs so expensive?
From office chairs to dining chairs, you get what you pay for
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No, you’re not crazy. Chairs are expensive. Sure, supply chain slowdowns and inflation can drive up prices, but regardless, chairs aren’t cheap.
For example, the Eames Chair and Cesca Chair are two popular seating options, offering stylish designs made from high-end materials, but you might experience some sticker shock when you check out the price, leaving you wondering, “Why are chairs so expensive?”
From the cost of materials to production times, many factors play a role when it comes to the final price tag.
To find out why are chairs so expensive, we spoke to several furniture experts. Here’s what they had to say.
More to design than a simple sketch
The lifespan of a chair starts in the design phase.
“From conceptual design to engineering the first prototype, to product testing, there are many steps, processes, and costs that go into the product before it is ever produced,” says Lindsay Schleis, vice president of business development at Polywood.
The design process is where style collides with ergonomic and safety standards. The National Institute of Standards and Technology provides standards within which both residential and commercial furniture most abide. These safety regulations are what keep your children’s furniture safe and your back well aligned in your office chair.
The feat of creating a well-designed chair has to be a combination of standards and style. It's time consuming, notes Cameron Johnson, CEO and Founder at Nickson Living, as the design process will last eight to 12 months. After, the chair will then head into production—an operation that will take three to four months before it's ready to hit the market.
Costs total up on the production line
At this stage, the cost of materials and labor required to produce the products are coming into the picture. Factories also need to have the right equipment for producing the newly-designed items. If not, the factory will need to spend additional funds creating stencils and purchasing machinery.
Factory location also plays a role in production time. For those purchasing items in the U.S., buying products made domestically won’t do much to avoid shipping costs down the line.
“Vietnam is one of the leading textile producers in the world, so even if a sofa or other item is ‘built’ in the United States, the components to ‘finish’ the item may be imported,” notes Johnson.
Costs can be cut by using lower-quality materials, but Schleis advises that you can’t always count on the cost of an item reflecting the quality given recent rising prices: “In today's market, with rising inflation, we have seen a sharp increase in even these lower-cost products."
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Shipping and that pesky supply chain
Supply chain issues can also add hidden costs to furniture prices—and you may have even experienced it yourself when purchasing furniture for your home recently.
The pandemic is one of the biggest reasons that shipping costs have skyrocketed. Johnson notes that shipping a sofa used to cost around $60 and now the same sofa costs a whopping $400 to ship.
Shipping is a time intensive process notes Schleis as the journey isn’t as simple as getting a chair from port to port. Once the train arrives to the US to be sold, it has to be transported by train and semi-truck to finally make it to the regional warehouse where it will be stored until being shipped to the consumer.
Those costs involved with each stage of shipping add up quick. While you may think you’ve scored free shipping on your furniture order, more than likely, those costs are instead built into the price tag.
A lifetime of comfortable seating
Whether you’re in need of an office chair to sit in for 40 hours a week or are looking to upgrade your dining room chairs, there’s no price on a well-made and comfortable chair to support your seat.
While some chairs may be more than you are initially willing to spend, consider the quality and materials that may last longer than other less expensive chairs made from different materials, depending on what your budget allows.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.