Unless you’ve been a mountain hermit for the past two years, you’re probably familiar with the worldwide supply chain interruptions and delays. They’re nothing new at this point.
But have you taken a moment to think about how shipping delays will affect your holiday season?
It may feel early to start thinking about buying presents for your loved ones. You may even be one of those people who don’t want to see Christmas decorations in stores before you finish your post-Thanksgiving digestion coma.
Regardless of your opinion about when the holidays should start, you should start thinking about them earlier this year. If you wait too long, prices on items will most likely increase, the items you want to buy might be unavailable, or shipping delays may put you in a bind.
Everyone is concerned about holiday shopping, even retailers.
Holiday shoppers aren’t the only ones concerned about rising prices and item availability. To help decrease demand later in the season, many retailers have already started their holiday campaigns.
Target launched its 2021 holiday promotions earlier this year, with ads that came out between October 10th and October 12th. The global conglomerate Amazon started offering holiday sales the first week of October. Pottery Barn began advertising their Christmas wreaths even earlier with an Instagram ad published on September 17th.
Why are global shipping and distribution routes so slow right now?
The main driver behind global trade route congestion is COVID-19, which comes as no surprise.
For example, part of the world’s third busiest port, Ningo-Zhoushan Port in China, had to close for two weeks on August 11th after one of the dockworkers tested positive for COVID-19. Even though only a portion of the port was closed, a bottleneck was still created.
Goods were still coming and going at the same rate, but the port couldn’t keep up. Every day over the two-week quarantine, more and more ships waited on standby.
Similar safety protocols are in place worldwide, and many ports have had to enforce a partial or complete shutdown due to COVID cases.
How does slow shipping impact pricing?
It’s like the age-old adage says, “Time is money.” The longer ships have to wait in port, the more money they have to spend on upkeep. If a ship’s cargo isn’t unloaded for two weeks, the ship loses two weeks of productivity and income.
So, to offset their loss, the shipping company or cargo boat increases the cost of their service.
Drewry Shipping created a world container index showing the composite cost of shipping a 40-ft container on eight major east-west routes was $9,613 — a 360% increase from just a year before.
Because of delayed shipping and associated costs, prices were increased to compensate and are expected to rise until the first quarter of 2022.
7 survival tips for 2021 holiday shopping.
Holiday shopping is going to be a little more difficult than usual this year. So, here are seven survival tips for the 2021 holiday shopping season.
1. Start shopping early.
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it is the most important. By starting your shopping early, you’ll be more likely to find the things you want. Prices will also be lower now than they will be later this year. By getting a head start, you can avoid many headaches that will accompany holiday shopping this year.
2. Go with gift cards.
While gift cards may not be the most sentimental gift, they are an excellent alternative. Gift cards last for a minimum of five years, and they can guarantee your loved ones will get something they truly want.
3. Use discounts and coupons.
Now’s the time to download those promotional apps most retailers have. You can save some money in the long run by using discounts offered to you through email, text, or a mobile app.
4. Be realistic.
You may not find all the things you want to buy this year. With bottlenecks in major ports, a shortage of long-distance truck drivers, and significant staff shortages, you probably won’t find a couple of things. Give yourself some grace if you can’t find that “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”
Rather than waiting to ask your loved ones what they want for the holidays, listen to what they’re saying now. Jot down notes in your phone or even on your hand if they mention something. You’ll be able to find their gift much earlier.
6. Personalize your gifts.
Maybe you take a step back in time this year and do some DIY projects to create your gifts. Alternatively, if you don’t consider yourself a crafty person, add a hand-written note to a generic gift. The hand-written note adds a nice personal touch and takes an otherwise generic gift to a new level.
7. Be patient with and understanding of retail staff.
Finally, make sure to be patient with retail employees this holiday season. Many stores are understaffed on top of facing low inventory. If a store doesn’t have an item you’re looking for, it’s not the fault of any employees. If you’re kind to them, they may be willing to go the extra mile for you by putting you on the waitlist or searching for the one last item in the back. A little kindness goes a long way.