Supply chain issues, earlier holiday shopping could lead to empty shelves, higher prices: economist


With many still at home amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, eager shoppers are already buying their holiday gifts — but supply chain issues across the world mean long wait times.

You may want to get started on that shopping list sooner than expected.

It isn’t even Halloween yet, but many are already getting into the holiday spirit. Prairie Proud apparel in Saskatoon said last year people started their holiday shopping in October.

Read more:
Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive

This year is no different. However, the pandemic is hurting supply chains, according to some economists, and the impact is trickling down to smaller businesses.

“We’ve really seen issues in terms of regular production times being, say, four to five weeks on some of the custom product that we do being closer to eight to 10 weeks,” explained owner and founder Cole Thorpe.

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Click to play video: 'Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive'

Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive

Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive

Many supply issues right now have to do with staffing, according to economist Jason Childs.

For example, some transportation firms are having trouble attracting drivers. The bottleneck effect is leading to longer wait times.

Read more:
The domino effect: Customers see delays, higher prices due to supply chain strain

“So anytime you have demand outstripping supply, consumers and buyers can respond in one of two ways,” Childs explained. “They can offer to pay more … or they can compete with each other by trying to be first.”

Childs said many are trying to get their gifts first. As the holiday season approaches, he said this could lead to empty shelves or seeing more items being resold.

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“(We could see) a thriving secondary market where the people who acted first and got one of these were selling them for two to three or four or more times the normal retail price,” Childs said.

Click to play video: 'Truck driver shortage amplifying supply chain pressures'

Truck driver shortage amplifying supply chain pressures

Truck driver shortage amplifying supply chain pressures

E-commerce company Rakuten suggests shoppers get on top of their shopping, make a plan for what they really want and get those items quickly.

“Waiting until end of November, early December … going to be more stressful than ever before. Because of those wait times, those people starting right now are going to win this year,” said general manager Jennifer LaForge.

For small businesses like Prairie Proud, they said they’re being transparent with customers about longer wait times.

Economists said to be patient and enjoy time with loved ones over the gift you give.

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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