Coronavirus Means Everyone Wants Jigsaw Puzzles

From The Wall Street Journal:

As if things weren’t bad enough, now there’s a shortage of jigsaw puzzles just when we need them most.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to hunker down in their homes and find ways to entertain themselves. A lot of them are thinking the same thought: jigsaw puzzle.

Of the top 10 items that shoppers searched for on last Tuesday, nine were antivirus cleaning supplies or personal-hygiene products (read: toilet paper). No. 7 was “puzzles for adults.”

More people were hunting desperately for jigsaw puzzles that day than Clorox wipes.

That should be good news for Filip Francke, chief executive of Ravensburger North America. Its parent, privately held German puzzle giant Ravensburger AG, is the world’s largest purveyor of jigsaw puzzles and does $600 million in business a year in puzzles, toys and other products.

. . . .

Ravensburger’s sales in North America over the past two weeks are up 370% year-over-year, the company says. On a single day, March 26, sales were 10 times what they were a year earlier.

Yet 137-year-old Ravensburger finds itself with fewer ways to get puzzles to puzzlers. “The demand is pretty infinite right now,” says Mr. Francke. “The challenge is to find ways to get it to consumers.”

. . . .

Barnes & Noble has closed 450 out of 620 stores nationwide, but Chief Executive James Daunt says online jigsaw shoppers are making up the difference. B&N salespeople will also deliver puzzles to people waiting in their cars outside of the stores.

“Demand has far exceeded supply,” Mr. Daunt said Sunday. “We’re pretty much selling it as we get it in.”

Customers with time on their hands are looking for fatter books and more-complicated puzzles, Mr. Daunt says. “This helps them spend time more productively and hopefully with more entertainment than Netflix and Apple TV can provide,” he says.

. . . .

Ravensburger has suspended sales from its own website in order to redirect its remaining puzzle supply to Target, B&N and mom-and-pop toy stores. Ravensburger says its factories in Europe are running at full capacity, and it’s hoping more stock will arrive in the U.S. next month to replenish its own website and Amazon, once it reopens its warehouses to puzzle deliveries.

. . . .

Sullivan’s Toys & Art Supplies, in Washington, D.C., doesn’t allow customers inside, but will hand off puzzles curbside. About 30 times a day, a masked-and-gloved Sullivan’s agent goes on a delivery run around the neighborhood to drop off toys at customers’ doors. Half of those deliveries include jigsaw puzzles, when they’re available.

. . . .

“It’s really hard to find a puzzle in the market,” says Mr. Francke.

The company, he suggests dryly, might have to stretch its output capacity by leaving one piece out of each puzzle.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus Means Everyone Wants Jigsaw Puzzles”

  1. Jigsaw puzzles are an addiction that I brought under control decades ago by not having a clear surface to play them on. Any time I found puzzles on sale I was compelled to buy them. I have dozens of jigsaw puzzles still in the box, unopened.

    I framed many of the finished puzzles so that I could see them, but not play them. I told myself that I could always take the puzzle out of the frame if I really needed to play it again.

    Then a few years ago I wondered if there were jigsaw puzzle programs for the Mac. There are.

    BrainsBreaker 5

    The first year or so I spent big chunks of time doing puzzles on the Mac. Because I had total access at any time to do puzzles, the need, the hunger, became controllable again.

    It turns out, that the need, the hunger, was because I had limited access to a clear surface to set up a puzzle long term. Now that I can have a virtual surface to do a couple of pieces at a time, then go on with other stuff, that need, that hunger, can be fed a few pieces at a time.

    See that, I just did two pieces.

    That was all I need for right now. Really, that was enough. I can finish this post and do a few more pieces later.

    That’s the trouble when people spring articles about jigsaw puzzles, and people having limited access, I get a little twitchy. There should be trigger warnings on articles like that. I mean, come on, this is about jigsaw puzzles here.

    Alright, post this then I can do two more pieces.

    • I’m sure that many out there think you made a humorous comment there. For those of us who have acquired the addiction, gone through rehabilitation, and suffered the inevitable relapse…

      The bad thing about epuzzles is that the floor around the dining room table doesn’t get thoroughly cleaned nearly so often.

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