Buy When You See: Retailers Fear Lack of Christmas Gifts


The Perfect Pigg, a gift shop owned by Ginger Pigg, is where residents of Cumming, Georgia go for gifts such as children’s toys and household items.

But this year store shelves can be a little sparse. Due to bottlenecks in the global supply chainMany stores like Pigg’s are struggling to collect as many items as possible ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Pigg, who has about 60% of the Christmas inventory he usually has at this time. Some of the items you ordered in July have not arrived yet. “I feel like I did my best,” he said. “I wait and pray that everything will be.”

The global supply chain is shaken by many challenges: factories that have been closed due to the COVID-19 wave, a shortage of containers to ship goods, delays in ports and warehouses, and a shortage of truck drivers.

While larger retailers like Walmart and Target have the ability to purchase their own containers, use air travel and other measures to ensure inventory is received, smaller retailers are at the mercy of their suppliers, each of which is suspending delivery again. guarantees and sometimes not communicated at all.

For Pigg, the delivery time for the pepper jelly he sells is usually two weeks; it now takes four to six weeks, with no guarantees. The order for the jelly, which he made in July, arrived in October. And you’re having trouble getting various things like shopping bags and candles due to a shortage of wicks and glass jars that the candles come in.

“It was one after the other,” he said.

Last year, Renee Silverman, owner of Irv’s Lgage in Vernon, Illinois, didn’t buy luggage before the holidays because no one was traveling. This year people are traveling and need luggage, but now the problem is finding luggage to sell.

Inventories, which were due to arrive in August and September, have been delayed until December due to supply problems. Silverman tried to split orders between five or six suppliers such as Samsonite and Ricardo Beverly Hills.

At that time, prices rise due to rising shipping costs.

Last year around this time Sea freight from China to the US West Coast cost $ 3,847 for a 40-foot container. Now shipping the same container costs $ 17,377. according to Freightos, a Hong Kong-based online marketplace.

Most of the suppliers Silverman works with have raised their prices once or twice in the past six months to offset the increased costs; prices usually rise every few years. Therefore, he tried to place an order before the price increase occurred.

“I feel like I’m 14 cymbals spinning in the air, I don’t know what will happen and when,” he said. “Providers are not answering or not answering calls.”

Most of the delays are related to stocks from China and, to a lesser extent, from Thailand. His ISPs told him the delays were caused by congested ports.

The average time taken for door-to-door shipping has increased by 45% over the past year, from 51 to 74 days., according to Freytos.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (California) account for 40% of containers entering the United States. By Monday afternoon, 73 container ships were at anchor awaiting unloading.

You generally don’t have to wait for container ships to unload, ”said Kevin Ketels, professor of global supply chain management at Wayne State University.

“These are significant delays,” he said.

Rob Pickering, owner of five Snapdoodle Toys & Games stores in the Seattle area, said ordering for the holidays “was a real struggle.”

Large holiday orders, which are usually placed in August, have been pushed back to July. For this reason, the company’s warehouses are more busy than usual for this time of year.

However, some of the items Pickering had ordered in June and July never arrived. Some of the smaller toy makers have already stopped accepting and filling more orders for the holidays. Some popular items, such as Ravensburger puzzles and Bruder trucks imported from Germany, are likely to disappear from shelves long before Christmas, Pickering said.

“We advise our customers to buy them when they see them and not think about buying them later this season,” he said.

Some retailers have changed production or created their own branded products to try to gain more control over the inventory on the shelves.

Chris Lynch is the co-founder of Everyday California in La Jolla, California, a clothing brand with an online store and retail store and adventure travel business.

There were supply chain problems “all over the place,” he said.

Covid-19 cases increased in Vietnam in July and August, forcing the closure of some headwear and headwear factories. In addition, there have been transportation problems with manufacturers in China, from where you supply items such as hoodies.

Lynch moved part of the production to his country. It manufactures popular products such as caps and T-shirts in Tijuana, Mexico. But delays continue to occur due to lack of raw materials.

Christine Noh, CEO of Nohble, an independent chain of five shoe and clothing stores in New York and New Jersey, says she fears the upcoming holiday season. His inventory is down 58% and half of the shelves in his warehouse are empty. Major shoe brands such as Nike and Adidas have been hit hard by the closures of factories in Vietnam.

But she launched a private label line to make sure the store had enough merchandise. The line produces wool sportswear and basic T-shirts. It is produced in Bangladesh, where it has a relationship with the plant.

“When we place orders with them, we have more opportunities for communication and visibility,” he says. And he decided to send some things by plane to make sure they arrive.

Timing is very important due to the short holidays.

“If everything comes out in January, it’s not very useful,” he said. “Therefore, everyone is holding their breath together.”

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