'A perfect storm': global supply chain issues could impact holiday shopping
Manitobans may want to start their holiday shopping early this year as experts warn global supply chain disruptions are driving up prices and may put some items on people’s shopping list items out of stock.
“It’s a bit of a perfect storm of a bunch of things that are contributing to an increase in cost,” said Rick Reid, executive director with the Manitoba branch of Supply Chain Canada.
A “supply chain” is the journey a product makes from manufacturers into the hands of consumers, says Reid, and a disruption at one part in the journey will have cascading effects down the line.
The pandemic has created a confluence of events (labour shortages, increased demand for certain products, rising costs for shipping) that is driving up price tags.
“Usually those fluctuations can be absorbed by companies,” said Reid. “But these ones are so extreme that it outstrips their ability to absorb them in their existing price structure.”
The same supply chain disruptions are also causing delays in products being restocked at stores, even here in Winnipeg.
“Two plus two equals fish right now,” said Kari England, owner of Toad Hall Toys, when describing what product shipments have been like in recent months. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
England says some products are in ready supply while others aren’t, calling it a “hit and miss situation.”
It’s a problem toy stores across Canada are facing, along with most other retailers.
“It’s happening at toy stores, it’s happening with almost every consumer package good imaginable, from toys to baby products and consumer electronics, even automotive,” said Andrew Wagar with the Canadian Toy Association.
Wagar said the irregularity in product shipments, and the increased cost of getting product into stores may force some retailers to cancel pre-holiday sales like Black Friday.
“Those sales may not happen or may be harder to find,” said Wagar, adding that online shopping may also be impacted by shipping delays.
“All of the advantages to waiting for holiday season shopping may not happen this year,” he said.
Similar advice is being given to consumers by the Retail Council of Canada ahead of the holiday shopping season.
“Retailers are already anticipating there could be supply shortages for some items,” said Michelle Wasylyshen with the Retail Council of Canada. “We are certainly advising people to start their shopping early.”
Ongoing labour shortages tied to the pandemic could also make finding products more difficult as retailers may not be able to accommodate longer holiday shopping hours.
“Every single day, I’m hearing from members about their inability to run two shifts within their stores,” said Wasylyshen.
A recent survey conducted among members of the Retail Council of Canada found most retailers expect supply chain issues to continue into the first half of 2022.