The holidays are coming and it’s time to hit the shops! Unfortunately, suppliers are cautioning us to expect supply shortages, shipping delays, and higher price tags.
Here’s what to expect this holiday shopping season.
Seen any empty store shelves recently?
Suppliers are struggling to stay ahead of shopper demands while catching up on the manufacturing lag experienced during the lockdown. They’re also dealing with a labor shortage, which makes it challenging to meet manufacturing quotas. Finally, many manufacturers rely on other suppliers for the materials they need for developing their products — shipping delays and worldwide supply chain bottlenecks are slowing down their production processes even further.
Even when manufacturers manage to keep the supply of their products ahead of the demand, there can be significant delays when the goods land in the U.S. For example, in mid-September, 70 cargo ships were waiting to dock in the LA and Long Beach ports, which handle about 40% of the country’s imported goods. The logjam is caused by a scarcity in available storage containers, as well as uneven deliveries of shipped goods as suppliers race to meet demand. The backup will likely continue to be a kink in the delivery chain deep into 2022.
Salespeople will likely be even more overworked than usual this time of year, due to massive staff shortages, resulting in extra worker responsibilities and overtime hours. The harried salespeople you encounter may be doing the jobs of several workers.
Don’t count on finding that last-minute bargain gift this year. The prices you’ll find on toys, clothing, electronics and other items will likely be higher than usual, thanks to inflation, the rising cost of fuel and supply that falls well below demand.
Suppliers and retailers are urging consumers to start on their holiday shopping as soon as possible for the best selection at the best prices. If you’re the kind of shopper who doesn’t think about gift shopping until mid-December, this may be the year to rethink your approach.
Plan ahead and start shopping early this holiday season to avoid empty shelves and sky-high prices. Happy shopping!