Supply Chain Issues Could Disrupt Holiday Shopping
You may want to get your holiday shopping done early this year as ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have created massive supply chain disruption. Right now, the American supply chain — which includes US ports, railroads, trucks, delivery services, warehouses, and the many people who run them — is overwhelmed.
Suppliers and retailers are already dealing with delayed cargo and skyrocketing freight prices, which will cause headaches during the holiday season. Experts don’t expect the supply chain bottlenecks to ease until early 2022, long after gifts are opened and the books are closed on retail’s traditionally busiest time. Retailers are urging consumers to buy early while gift-worthy goods are still available. Amazon recently announced “Black Friday-worthy” deals and a hub to help consumers plan for holiday gift-giving and events.
What’s Causing the Supply Chain Shortages?
The problems started in manufacturing last year when factories across Asia were forced to shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks. As the economy recovered, demand for an array of consumer goods and the parts, raw materials, and other inputs that manufacturers use skyrocketed. As goods piled up, demand for shipping containers soared, and shipping companies started raising prices, adding further strain to global supply chains. The spot price per container on the China-US East coast route – one of the world’s busiest container lanes – has increased by over 500% from a year ago to about $20,000, today, according to freight-tracking firm Freightos.
Meanwhile, widespread labor shortages mean that there aren’t enough workers to unload those container ships, causing record backlogs at ports, which is delaying goods from being loaded onto trucks to get on store shelves. There’s also a truck driver shortage and post office staffing shortage in the US, further exacerbating the problem. The result is fewer products for consumers to purchase, higher prices on the available products, and shipping delays. This becomes an even bigger problem during the holidays when there is already a high demand for different retail products.
How to Avoid Delays Due to Supply Chain Shortage Issues
Supply chain issues will affect various products, including toys, seasonal clothing, books, board games, and electronics like video game consoles. According to Nike CEO John Donahoe, the company is facing long shipping times. Before the pandemic, it took about 40 days to move a pair of Nike sneakers from Asia to North America. With container shortages, port and rail congestion, and labor shortages, shoes “now sit at 80 days — roughly two times normal. That’s why you should plan and buy what you need early, especially big-ticket items from well-known brands – it’s best to order early and get your shopping done ahead of Black Friday. Apart from starting your Christmas shopping early, other tips to help you get ahead of this supply chain disruption include:
- Try different retailers: If you have a favorite retailer that you like to shop from, it would be a good idea to check out what they have and buy the items you want sooner rather than later. But don’t just rely on one retailer. Check out multiple retailers and store locations to find the items on your list. If one location is out, it doesn’t mean that every location is. Many smaller retailers and sellers on websites like Etsy are feeling the pinch right now due to COVID-related issues and marketplace competition. That means you may be able to find some fantastic deals on unique gifts from sources like these.
- Be realistic: Many manufacturers are already whittling down their inventory to make sure they can keep items in stock. You might also want to consider purchasing products that aren’t your first choice, since some items, like the PlayStation 5, will likely be in short supply until sometime next year.
- Check shipping deadlines: Every shipping company, from FedEx to the US Postal Service, has seen severe staffing shortages this year. So, if you can pay for the more advanced shipping options, such as overnight or express shipping.
- Keep your shopping domestic and local: The best way to make sure your loved one receives a Christmas present is by picking it up yourself. You can shop in person and support your favorite local businesses.
With so many things up in the air due to the pandemic, don’t let holiday gift-giving be one. Shop early, and enjoy the season for all it has to offer. For more updates like these or if you need IT services for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us.