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Astronomy sales during the pandemic.  Update.


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What are the chances of seeing a Williams Optics scope in this side of Christmas? Looking at the Zenithstar 73 or something similar

In theory we will have more in gold and red anodising before Christmas but cannot be sure. 

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Sales of astronomy equipment during the pandemic continue to be significantly higher than normal while manufactures struggle with materials shortages and fewer shipping channels.  Obtaining relia

Let's hope this  pandemic nightmare is over sooner than later. Busineses  as well as the general population have taken awful and tragic  blows and the News media broadcasts the  figures daily, and

Unfortunately stock availability has not improved. Most factories in China have reopened and are running at full capacity but there are not enough container slots available on cargo ships. The cost of

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4 minutes ago, keramos said:

Any news or update on Zwo shipments, I’m waiting on camera and filter drawer... anticipation not bothering me, honest (acting all cool).

Nihal.

As someone who has been waiting 14 weeks for an order to complete (fair to say - it is mostly complete now :), and cannot blame retailers for the current issues really - it did say 40-60 working days on the items when I ordered them)

FLO are fulfilling orders in the order that they were ordered, so to know when your particular order will be fulfilled you'll need to email them directly, and quote your order number, or if asking on the forums, then perhaps mention when you ordered it, although that might add some guesswork for them.

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On 06/10/2020 at 17:50, FLO said:

Sales of astronomy equipment during the pandemic continue to be significantly higher than normal while manufactures struggle with materials shortages and fewer shipping channels. 

We believe this perfect storm will continue at least until a vaccine is found and made readily available

 

On 15/11/2020 at 12:34, FLO said:

Overall the stock availability situation is not improving and we don’t think it will until after a vaccine is released and made readily available. This is true for many products, not only astronomy kit. These are extraordinary times. 

 

Unfortunately stock availability has not improved. Most factories in China have reopened and are running at full capacity but there are not enough container slots available on cargo ships. The cost of those that are available have increased significantly. We hear container slots are being cancelled without good reason then resold at much higher prices! In these circumstances it is near impossible for importers to provide reliable ETAs unless a ship has been loaded and is already enroute. Even then its arrival is subject to delay because most shipping companies are avoiding Felixstowe, which is causing congestion at other ports. 

We try hard to keep our website's dispatch estimates up-to-date but it is not easy, especially for those products sourced through a distributor. Some of our dispatch ETAs are little more than a best guess. 

FLO has more stock than any other UK astronomy retailer (we are the only one with a warehouse) and we have doubled our staff (now fifteen). Nobody is doing more to make astronomy equipment available and provide information but these are extraordinary times. 

Thank-you for your patience and understanding. 

Steve & the FLO team. 

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54 minutes ago, FLO said:

 

 

Unfortunately stock availability has not improved. Most factories in China have reopened and are running at full capacity but there are not enough container slots available on cargo ships. The cost of those that are available have increased significantly. We hear container slots are being cancelled without good reason then resold at much higher prices! In these circumstances it is near impossible for importers to provide reliable ETAs unless a ship has been loaded and is already enroute. Even then its arrival is subject to delay because most shipping companies are avoiding Felixstowe, which is causing congestion at other ports. 

We try hard to keep our website's dispatch estimates up-to-date but it is not easy, especially for those products sourced through a distributor. Some of our dispatch ETAs are little more than a best guess. 

FLO has more stock than any other UK astronomy retailer (we are the only one with a warehouse) and we have doubled our staff (now fifteen). Nobody is doing more to make astronomy equipment available and provide information but these are extraordinary times. 

Thank-you for your patience and understanding. 

Steve & the FLO team. 

Some other online dealers are adding over £100 on astro items - which are apparently In-Stock.

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37 minutes ago, Skyline said:

Some other online dealers are adding over £100 on astro items - which are apparently In-Stock.

Not us 😇

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Although... 

3 hours ago, FLO said:

... there are not enough container slots available on cargo ships. The cost of those that are available have increased significantly. We hear container slots are being cancelled without good reason then resold at much higher prices! 

With shipping costs having increased so much we are expecting retail price increases (legitimate ones, not price-gouging). 

HTH, 

Steve 

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1 hour ago, FLO said:

Not us 😇

Thank goodness for FLO.  I've noticed the price increases elsewhere, particularly on one of our usually good value Teutonic friends websites.

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Let's hope this  pandemic nightmare is over sooner than later.
Busineses  as well as the general population have taken awful and tragic  blows
and the News media broadcasts the  figures daily, and pretty demoralising they are.
However, perhaps the beginning of the end is about to commence,   (Part of a famous phrase Winston Churchill used in the House during WW2).


I turn to our Sponsor now, Flo,  the business has grown in stature over the Years, their Service, Integrity, and readiness always to treat their customers 
with honour and respect.   Quality staff members too, and always willing to go just that bit further to satisfy their customers.
I've been with SGL 14 years now, and feel qualified to write these words, we're fortunate to have them in our midst.
This isn't flattery, just fact.

I got my Vaccination today, part one at least 😀.
Ron.
 

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18 hours ago, FLO said:

 

 

Unfortunately stock availability has not improved. Most factories in China have reopened and are running at full capacity but there are not enough container slots available on cargo ships. The cost of those that are available have increased significantly. We hear container slots are being cancelled without good reason then resold at much higher prices! In these circumstances it is near impossible for importers to provide reliable ETAs unless a ship has been loaded and is already enroute. Even then its arrival is subject to delay because most shipping companies are avoiding Felixstowe, which is causing congestion at other ports. 

We try hard to keep our website's dispatch estimates up-to-date but it is not easy, especially for those products sourced through a distributor. Some of our dispatch ETAs are little more than a best guess. 

FLO has more stock than any other UK astronomy retailer (we are the only one with a warehouse) and we have doubled our staff (now fifteen). Nobody is doing more to make astronomy equipment available and provide information but these are extraordinary times. 

Thank-you for your patience and understanding. 

Steve & the FLO team. 

Tell me about it Steve, I move a lot from China to the EU and US and where I was paying $2k for a container a couple of months ago I'm now being charged $10k - $15k or face long delays.  It's being described as the container Mafia problem, there is a problem with equipment availability and I can't see it improving in the short-term.

I started using rail freight just over a year ago as a faster option than ocean with less cost than air, but even if you can find a container now it's become impossible to get rail space unless you're Apple etc.

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On 05/11/2020 at 11:38, Matt01 said:

Thank you Steve...

It does appear to be on its way😃20201105_103714.thumb.jpg.2a1bed1eb85312dd7235ad0f89eb2f9c.jpg

There's a coincidence. I used to live on Johnson Rd myself at one time.

🤣lly

 

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1 hour ago, Starflyer said:

Tell me about it Steve, I move a lot from China to the EU and US and where I was paying $2k for a container a couple of months ago I'm now being charged $10k - $15k or face long delays.  It's being described as the container Mafia problem, there is a problem with equipment availability and I can't see it improving in the short-term.

I started using rail freight just over a year ago as a faster option than ocean with less cost than air, but even if you can find a container now it's become impossible to get rail space unless you're Apple etc.

Yep hearing a lot on the grapevine about shipping companies charging basically whatever they can get away with for containers right now.

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I started on my equipment replacement process at the beginning of December and have ordered quite a few items from FLO.  This includes scopes, dovetails, saddles, adapters, OAG, filters, rotators - quite a lot actually.  As of last week I have everything delivered which, in these times, I find extraordinary.  Way above what I was expecting. 

 

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Doesn't look like the shipping situation is getting any better...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55740063

I'm not sure I understand why there's a build-up of empty containers over here though.  Is it that they can't get the ships into port to put them on, or do the shipping companies find it more profitable to sail an empty ship back to Asia to pick up more stuff than to carry a load of containers back?  I feel like I must be missing part of the story somewhere.

James

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11 hours ago, JamesF said:

Doesn't look like the shipping situation is getting any better...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55740063

I'm not sure I understand why there's a build-up of empty containers over here though.  Is it that they can't get the ships into port to put them on, or do the shipping companies find it more profitable to sail an empty ship back to Asia to pick up more stuff than to carry a load of containers back?  I feel like I must be missing part of the story somewhere.

James

It's a combination of both James.  Ports around the world are working with fewer staff so unloading / loading takes longer.  Ships have to make a schedule and if unloading / loading is slower then the first thing to be hit is empty equipment returns.

The world is importing less to China, Covid has hit manufacturing everywhere, and it costs money to ship empty containers back. A proportion of a ships cargo will usually be empties, currently it would have to be most of the cargo.

All of this, combined with CNY looming, means there's a major shortage of containers as there's a rush to get shipments out before factories stop their production lines for a few weeks.

I hear the freight situation in China is expected to start returning to normal by April.

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On 23/01/2021 at 11:13, Starflyer said:

I hear the freight situation in China is expected to start returning to normal by April.

I hope you are right 🙂 

Currently, we are expecting the situation to worsen before it improves. I think we might be looking at 6-12x months before before we see any kind of 'normal'. 

There is no doubt the cost of shipping has increased significantly so price rises are in the pipeline. Some will be significant! Especially for large/heavy items like Dobsonians and mounts. We have already increased our prices for iOptron mounts (we import them ourselves, direct from the factory) and are expecting a new Sky-Watcher price list from their distributor in 2-3x weeks (due to increased factory prices and shipping costs). Others will follow. 

We understand the need for price increases during these extraordinary times but later this year when shipping costs have reduced we should expect manufacturers and distributors to reduce prices. 

Steve 

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5 hours ago, FLO said:

expecting a new Sky-Watcher price list from their distributor in 2-3x weeks (due to increased factory prices and shipping costs).

Hmm. Do you have any inkling about what sort of increase is likely? Are we talking 5 - 10%, or more like 20% (or more)?

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7 hours ago, FLO said:

I hope you are right 🙂 

Currently, we are expecting the situation to worsen before it improves. I think we might be looking at 6-12x months before before we see any kind of 'normal'. 

There is no doubt the cost of shipping has increased significantly so price rises are in the pipeline. Some will be significant! Especially for large/heavy items like Dobsonians and mounts. We have already increased our prices for iOptron mounts (we import them ourselves, direct from the factory) and are expecting a new Sky-Watcher price list from their distributor in 2-3x weeks (due to increased factory prices and shipping costs). Others will follow. 

We understand the need for price increases during these extraordinary times but later this year when shipping costs have reduced we should expect manufacturers and distributors to reduce prices. 

Steve 

I did say, start returning to normal Steve 😇

It can't get any worse, for the first time ever I'm struggling to get a 40' container out before CNY, I think it'll end up being loaded into two 20's.  I'm already planning purchases for Q4 to make sure I can get stock in.

It's always tough in the run up to CNY, I hear they're manufacturing containers faster than ever now and I'm sure we'll be in a better position in a couple of months time.

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The Chinese government is staggering the new years shut downs this year instead of everyone closing at the same time. Not sure if this will make any real difference though? 🤔

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14 hours ago, Starflyer said:

I did say, start returning to normal Steve 😇

I saw that and still hope you are right 🙂 

Steve 

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15 hours ago, The Lazy Astronomer said:

Hmm. Do you have any inkling about what sort of increase is likely? Are we talking 5 - 10%, or more like 20% (or more)?

They haven't said. They only say they are not accepting stock orders at the current price but won't have a new price list for 2-3x weeks... These certainly are extraordinary times! 

The price rises will be due to an increase in factory prices and higher shipping costs. The latter is more significant so prices of large/heavy items will increase most. Our best guess is 10-20%. 

HTH, 

Steve 

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57 minutes ago, FLO said:

They haven't said. They only say they are not accepting stock orders at the current price but won't have a new price list for 2-3x weeks... These certainly are extraordinary times! 

The price rises will be due to an increase in factory prices and higher shipping costs. The latter is more significant so prices of large/heavy items will increase most. Our best guess is 10-20%. 

HTH, 

Steve 

Thanks. What does this mean for us as consumers in the interim (until the new prices are released) - have you stopped accepting orders on Skywatcher items for the time being?

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