Christmas of chaos: Why B.C. business owners say you may want to start shopping now
If you haven’t started making a list and checking it twice for the holiday season, you might want to get on that sooner than expected.
Retail experts are warning consumers of possible toy shortages and shipping delays caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues.
“It’s affected us tremendously,” said Lee Richmond, owner of Kaboodles Toy Store in Vancouver.
“It’s a real thing, people talk about supply chains, but it’s really huge. If you think you're going to walk in in mid- or late-November, wanting exactly this train, or that puzzle, or that game, chances are we never got it, or it might be gone. So think outside of the box yourself."
Retail stores have been dealt continuous blows throughout the worldwide pandemic. Many were forced to close completely during previous waves, and their next challenges are trying to keep up with demand and keep the prices down.
Increased shipping costs are being passed on to the businesses, which in turn have to pass it on to the consumer.
“The whole shipping system has been completely maxed for a long time so backlogs can’t really go through the system, let alone new orders very quickly,” says David Ian Gray of DIG360, a retail consulting firm. “Suddenly, we’re all hearing about supply chain issues and I think what that’s doing to the system is it’s radically changing how holiday shopping is shaping up.”
According to Gray, in years past many holiday shoppers have waited for deals. To entice people into their stores, many retailers would offer deep discounts throughout the so-called holiday shopping season, especially Black Friday.
But the pandemic has changed how businesses operate. It has severely limited what they’re able to offer and how much they can charge for it.
“If there is something that you want, if you can find it, get it,” said Gray.
And it’s not just affecting traditional brick and mortar stores. The shipping crunch is also having an impact on online shopping as well. Over the years, many more people have enjoyed the ease of online shopping, but getting those items to your door is taking much longer.
“The chaotic nature of how product is arriving on shore here in Canada means it might be here tomorrow or next week, or maybe not until 2022,” said Gray.
Kaboodles Toy Store already has many items on back-order and is also being hit with price increases through its supply chain, just to get certain items in stock. It ultimately means consumers might end up paying more, too.
“I guess I should be buying now in large quantities to make sure we have it for Christmas, but I don't have the storage," said Richmond. "Do you buy things out of your personal savings so that you have enough stock, in case it goes sideways? There's just no way of knowing."
Richmond’s advice for the holiday shopping season?
"Shop early, I guess is the thing."