The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have highlighted the shortcomings of “just in time” manufacturing. The scuba diving industry has not been spared these disruptions, as clearly reflected in the lack of availability of certain equipment, and continuously rising prices, though some portion of these price increases can be attributed to soaring inflation.
Manufacturers of scuba diving equipment are competing for a limited supply of key commodities and logistical capacity, leading to empty shelves and long purchase lead times for divers. The days of buffering inconsistent supplies with excess inventory at the lowest possible purchase cost are also gone as manufacturers evaluate risk as a key decision point in their supply chain development, resulting in serious shortages of some types of new scuba diving essentials.
Back in May, I was trying to buy a specific model of wetsuit, and although I searched across several different global suppliers, the quickest delivery I could secure was only in November 2022. At the same time, due to these equipment shortages, there is more pressure on the second-hand scuba equipment market. I am hearing that used HP100/LP85 tanks are trading for $350 and more each. Used Shearwater Perdix or Peregrine computers are being snapped up as soon as they are being advertised without much haggling over the price. To buy underwater housings for some more popular camera models is next to impossible.
New and used scuba equipment prices are inextricably linked. A shortage in new equipment supplies immediately drives up demand for used items, creating a shortage there too. Prices for used equipment were already rising earlier this year, and the market has only become more warped since then.
The new gear that is still available is increasing in price drastically month to month. It seems that most manufacturers are raising prices on all new gear by quite a significant percentage. Labour strikes, factory disruptions tied to Covid outbreaks in China, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and year-end holiday shipping pressures will most probably keep scuba equipment logistics networks entangled for the rest of the year. Inflation is also going to stay for a while.
So, what can scuba divers expect in the coming months? And what to do to get the equipment they desire or, more importantly, really need?
If you can buy new equipment now at a fixed price, buy now even if the delivery is scheduled for much later. If you can get your hands on decent second diving gear, don’t hesitate.