Will Supply Chain Issues Really Sabotage 2021 Holiday Shopping?

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Due to pandemic-related supply chain issues, you should expect fewer bargains and depleted inventory when you do your holiday shopping this year. But s

ome retailers think it is going to be worse than that, and

are already

telling their customers

September is the new December” and that they should start shopping now, as some products may be very hard to find come November and December.

Here’s a look at why the shortages

are

getting worse, and which shopping categories

are most

affected.

Why is the supply chain problem getting worse?

The time it takes to ship a crate from Asia—the source of 40% of the volume of all goods imported by sea—has doubled since the pandemic began. The delays are related to all sorts of problems, from labor shortages and COVID-related factory shutdowns to historic weather, as summer storms have led to ports temporarily closing from China to Louisiana.

The United States is also facing a shortage of long haul truck drivers; that industry is still well below pre-pandemic employment levels. As reported by Forbes, there is currently one qualified driver for every 9 job postings. Freight railroads are also dealing with labor and equipment shortages that have created bottlenecks everywhere railroads converge. And shipping by air? Already a prohibitively expensive option, the cost of airfreight from Southeast Asia has increased by 24% over the last year.

What products are most affected by supply chain issues?

A microchip shortage is expected to limit the supply of consumer electronics until the end of the year, so don’t expect a lot of gadget inventory between now and Christmas. In fact, if you happen to see in-demand products like the PS5 or Nintendo Switch on shelves or available online, snag them while you can. Also, don’t expect to see nearly as many bargains or sales for these types of products this year—Black Friday 2021 could look very different than in years past.Meanwhile, book publishers are grappling with paper shortages and shipping delays as well, and it’s already forced them to push some fall releases into 2022. As a result, retailers are encouraging consumers to buy their books earlier in the year or opt for older books that have already been shipped to stores.Toys are also a concern, as retailers are already warning of a toy shortage come Christmas. Toy giant Mattel has said that it will raise prices in the next few months, too, so your best bet is to shop early—especially for any toy that will be in high demand.Supply chain disruptions will affect clothing, too. Clothing Companies like Adidas and Crocs have expressed inventory concerns, as has Nike, which might run out of shoes to sell by Christmas.

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Bottom Line

If you have specific gifts or decorations on your holiday shopping lists, start hunting for them now. Compared to the 2020 holiday season, inventory will be a much bigger problem, and retailers are already sounding the alarm that they may struggle to keep enough products on hand to meet demand.

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