HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – There are nearly three months until Christmas but logistics and business experts say it may not be a bad idea to start your holiday shopping now.
That’s because global supply chain issues could mean that many products may not be readily available as the holidays draw near.
Susan Blevins with The Toy Place in downtown Huntsville says she started experiencing issues getting products delivered last year amid the pandemic. She thought that when COVID-19 vaccines became readily available, things would get better.
However, that has not been the case. Now she’s concerned she may not have enough toys to stock the shelves for the holidays.
“I started restocking my store in January,” Blevins said. “I had many products that were on backorder. Most of them have come in, but I have some products that have been on backorder since March. And there’s no estimated arrival date.”
Global supply chain expert Nick Vyas told CBS News that the problem starts overseas. In many countries that the United States imports from, limited access to COVID-19 vaccines has forced many factories to shut down to avoid further spread of the virus.
“We have this global participation of labor forces – supply side activities, manufacturing, transportation. But for these things to work, people have to be immunized,” Vyas said.
The issues don’t stop when the products finally make it stateside, however. Joey Bishop with Arab Cartage & Express told News 19 that many of their truck drivers are having to wait hours for the products on their trucks to be unloaded.
He says that’s because many of the businesses they deliver to don’t have enough employees to unload the trucks. Oftentimes, the delays mean drivers miss scheduled deliveries and have to reschedule them for the next day.
In California’s Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, hundreds of cargo ships carrying 500,000 shipping containers sit waiting to be unloaded. There simply aren’t enough dock workers to unload the cargo. Nearly 40% of the United States’ imports arrive through those two facilities.
To add to the problem, demand and spending are at pandemic-era highs. According to the city of Huntsville’s FY22 budget, sales tax revenues for FY21 are up 9% over FY20.
Blevins suggestion? Start shopping now.
“I don’t want to scare people,” she said. “But for some of those big-ticket items, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and get started now. I don’t see it improving before the holidays.”