A month after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, retailers worldwide are now starting to acknowledge a shortage of Nikon equipment. The rolling power blackouts have meant no production of various components from glass to chips, and they're expected to last into September, possibly longer.
Wynne Powell president and CEO of London Drugs, a chain of Canadian retail stores, today talked about Japanese companies like Nikon running out of stock (source).
"They don't have months of inventory on hand, and it's now starting to show"
"Nikon, which is warning of camera shortages this summer, is another case in point, Powell said. The company had a lens factory near the epicenter of the quake. The firm was able to repair the crack in the floor and get the plant operating again, but had to shut down after running out of a small part that was supplied by a local family business."
In Europe Nikon stock of certain items were difficult to find even before events in Japan, now retailers have no idea when stock will become available.
Anthony Rochat from Photo Vision, in Lausanne, Switzerland said "products made in Japan, have become even more difficult to find" (source):
"We are out of stock for Fuji X100, which was highly anticipated. We should have it again in May, in the best case. The Nikon or Canon, which are produced in Japan, are also becoming very difficult to find"
Several UK Professional Nikon dealers gave a strong indication that a Nikon price increase is on it's way.
Some retailers have already increased their prices significantly from last month. Pro equipment is getting closer to the MSRP and in a few cases sellers on Amazon have increased them even further.
Recent Nikon statements on the earthquake did not provide details of how much their production is impacted by the disaster and only warned about upcoming product shortages (which is actually more than some other Japanese companies have publicly said). Only a small portion of the manufacturing have been moved outside Japan. It is also unclear how big Nikon's dependency on third party suppliers is, for example: the raw glass producer Ohara Inc. claims to have Nikon as a "major customer". Nikon USA say on their website that "Nikon is the only major optical company in the world that still controls and manufactures every aspect of its glass-making business, allowing it to finely tune Nikon lens specifications, quality and performance. From the raw silicon to the final coatings."
You can read also this blog post on stock and equipment prices of the major Japanese photo manufactures after the earthquake: