Kitchen Table Economics

As Supply Chain Problems Continue, Consumers Begin Christmas Shopping Early

The holidays are fast approaching. And for years, consumers have marked Black Friday as the beginning of the shopping season. But in the age of COVID, supply chain and staffing shortages threaten empty shelves and slower delivery times.

According to a recent survey of consumers conducted by RetailMeNot, amid fears of supply shortages, 37 percent of shoppers began their holiday shopping between the months of August and September; 22 percent said they’d begin shopping in October; and 24 percent planned to begin in early November.

This is not just a problem for small businesses. Retailers of all shapes and sizes are expected to feel the effects of port and rail congestion, lack of delivery drivers, and slowed production this holiday season.

Even companies like Nike, who’s sneakers ranked among the highest sold in 2021, said shipments from their manufacturing plant in Asia are taking nearly 80 days to reach North America — almost double what it took before the pandemic. And if you were hoping to ship gifts to loved ones across the country, you may also face some challenges.

The three largest carriers in the United States — FedEx, UPS, and USPS — recently announced their recommended deadlines for shipping gifts. The United States Postal Service and FedEx are recommending having your gifts in the mail by December 15 for an “expected delivery” on, or before December 25. Of course, however, there is no guarantee.

Additionally, the USPS recently announced that due to an “anticipated increased holiday demand” they would increase shipping costs from Monday, October 3 through Sunday, December 26.

While stores and consumers gear up for a busy holiday season, be sure to check for items in stock and beware of shipping delays.

We don’t want a Nightmare before Christmas.