The supply chain crunch is starting to threaten holiday shoppers’ wishlists, said financial experts this week.
“There will definitely be weeping children this holiday season,” Joel Bines, the co-head of AlixPartners’ retail consulting practice, told the Financial Times. “Black Friday doesn’t exist; the holiday season doesn’t exist, not as it used to,” he said, adding that the “most in-demand” items will be in short supply due to disruptions.
For months now, supply chains have been slowed down due to shipping bottlenecks and labor shortages in key industries, causing delays. Some analysts expressed concerns that the supply crunch could lead to higher inflation.
As of late Sunday, there were about 60 vessels waiting to offload outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Meanwhile, dual energy crises in mainland China and parts of Europe have also triggered shipping slowdowns, analysts have noted.
Per Hong, senior partner at consulting firm Kearney, told CNBC that several Apple Inc. suppliers have suspended operations at their factories in mainland China. And it’s not just Apple products, but the whole electronics industry that will see disruptions.
“While likely to normalize in the longer term, in the immediate near term these power restrictions and production cuts in China we are observing are likely to lead to export price hikes, worsening inflation into the holiday season,” Hong said, noting items such as toys and textiles are also likely to be impacted.
Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics, added to the news outlet that factory shutdowns and worker shortages in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries will create “significant short-term disruption.”
Overall, “there will be some shortages on specific products over the holiday season,” Seckin Ozkul, from the University of South Florida’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab, said in a recent interview. “So, if consumers know what they want to buy for their loved ones for the holiday season, now is a good time to act on it.”
Savita Subramanian of Merrill Lynch Japan Equity and Quantitative Strategy Responsibility told Reuters that a potential holiday shortage is connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-related supply chain problems extend beyond consumer goods, and it’s easy to find long-term signs of global friction,” Subramanian said in reference to stocking items on shelves early enough.
And as a result, some retailers are trying to keep shelves stocked early during the holiday season.
“We already had Halloween early,” said Lowe’s CFO David Denton, according to RetailDive. “If we look at the Christmas holiday, that is coming in earlier than we originally planned last year.”