It seems that every mention of holiday shopping this year is accompanied by a warning that you might not be able to get your gifts on time. The supply chain shortage has caused delays in several consumer items, with ships being stuck at ports unable to be unloaded.
The supply chain shortage comes on top of a chip shortage caused by the pandemic that was already putting the squeeze on everything from new computers to electronics to automobiles.
The pandemic is responsible for a snowball effect of circumstances all coming together to cause the shipment of goods to get stalled, thus leaving store shelves empty and resulting in long restock times for popular items (like the PlayStation 5, for example).
We’ve all experienced the shortage of things like toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic. This particular shortage first came about due to panic buying. But then as the pandemic kicked in, manufacturers had to shut down factories for safety reasons. Some workers became sick with COVID, and it also became more difficult to get the supplies needed to make their products because their suppliers were experiencing the same things.
This supply chain shortage is now the latest impact. Walmart was already running out of Christmas trees in some states even before Thanksgiving.
The issue is caused by converging factors that make up a “perfect storm” hitting manufacturing and shipping.
The Pandemic Slowed Everything Down
The pandemic, while on the way out due to the arrival of vaccines, is still causing issues. As of mid-November, Austria just instituted another lockdown due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
For nearly two years now, the pandemic has caused material shortages and manufacturing delays as the workers that keep many industries going have been forced to stay at home due to lockdowns or getting sick. Unfortunately, 5 million people have also died during the pandemic, which is a loss of those that were employed from the jobs they used to do.
The engine that gets things made to be shipped around the world was running at less than full capacity for a long time and is working to catch up.
Many of Goods Are Shipped From Around the World
The blueberries you get in the grocery store might come from Peru and that plastic Christmas lawn decoration could have shipped from China. We live in a global economy now where manufacturers get goods made and shipped from around the world.
The fact that every country on earth was impacted by the pandemic, disrupted the supply of goods globally, so there was no place to get goods that weren’t hit.
People Are Making Up for a Lost Year and a Half
Families that had to stay apart last holiday season are making up for lost time this year and planning big celebrations with a lot of decorations and presents. Consumers are purchasing in just about every goods category to make up for all that time spent being shut in, and this adds a supply shortage element.
As long as supply and demand have existed, when demand gets higher than supply can keep up with, shortages happen. Prices go up as well, which is what we’re also seeing.
Factories Are Making Up for a Lost Year and Half
Factories are working to supply the demand and many now have most of their staff vaccinated, which reduces the risk of manufacturing downtime. But imagine if you hadn’t cooked your family their favorite cakes and cookies in a year. They put in their requests, but you couldn’t fill them.
Then, you suddenly got the time and the supply to make that years’ worth of baking orders, made them, and tried to get them on the table all at once. They would not fit because your table wasn’t built for a years’ worth of baked goods at one time.
This is similar to what’s happening with ships sitting in ports. Once manufacturers were able to start filling orders again, they worked to make up for the lost time. Now more goods are going through the supply chain (ships, trains, trucks) than it was built for, and it’s overloaded.
When Is The Supply Chain Shortage Ending?
There is no solid prediction on when the supply chain shortage is ending, but many feel that this will happen sometime in 2022. As people get back to post-pandemic life as normal, their increased buying to make up for lost time will come to an end. This will reduce the demand on the supply chain.
Ports, shipping companies, and manufacturers will also have implemented adjustment plans, such as increasing staff at ports (which is already being done in some cities) and adjusting schedules to take advantage of off-times and alternate routes.
What Can You Do to Plan?
In the meantime, how can you ensure that you’re not left without a gift to give your favorite uncle?
Here are some ways you can shortage-proof your holiday this year:
- Buy early (like now)
- Buy local
- Go old-school and purchase in-store where you take the item home with you
- Look for non-physical gifts like software or services (e.g., Purchase someone a Microsoft 365 plan or a healthcare app)
- Give a gift card (this allows someone to buy what you wanted to get them when it’s back in stock)
Need Help Finding Technology for Your Business?
Is your Orlando area business having trouble finding the PCs and hardware you need? C Solutions can help with sourcing to help you get over any supply chain bumps that are keeping you from optimizing your IT infrastructure.
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