You’ve heard the warnings. You’ve seen the pictures of cargo ships anchored off ports and cargo containers sitting idle overseas. The global supply chain is experiencing an array of pandemic-related issues and Santa is concerned.
As the news spreads, more and more holiday shoppers are choosing to tackle their lists far earlier than they otherwise would. I asked Jackie Breyer, editorial director of The Toy Insider, for her advice on holiday shopping this year.
The Epoch Times: What effects do you predict supply-chain disruptions will have on this year’s holiday shopping season?
Jackie Breyer: Supply chain disruptions are affecting nearly every category of consumer products. Since the large majority of toys are made overseas, the bottlenecks happening at the ports on both the east and west coasts are causing a significant number of toys to be delayed getting into the U.S. Once they finally make it into port, they have to be unloaded, put on trucks, and then delivered to retail warehouses, and there are further supply chain disruptions every step of the way.
No one is absolutely certain how this will play out for the holiday shopping season, but there is a lot of apprehension. Manufacturers and retailers cannot guarantee exactly when particular products will be on shelves, or even whether they’ll make it to shelves at all before the holidays.
The Epoch Times: When should people begin their holiday shopping this year?
Ms. Breyer: Consumers should really start their holiday shopping now. This is especially important if your child wants a particular toy for the holidays. If you can’t get that special toy now, it may hit retail in a few weeks, a month, or not at all. A backup plan is going to be key this holiday season. Retailers do have fairly stocked shelves right now, so parents and gift-givers who shop early should have no problems providing their kids with a toy-filled Christmas morning.
The Epoch Times: What do you expect to be the most difficult toys to find this year?
Ms. Breyer: Pokémon cards and other Pokémon toys, Squishmallows plush, Magic Mixies, and CoComelon toys.
The Epoch Times: For those shoppers aiming to secure a sought after toy for Christmas, what strategy do you recommend?
Ms. Breyer: Shop early for toys: Once the hottest toys sell out, they may not be back in stock before the holidays, especially in late November and December, so be sure to grab toys your kids want as soon as you see them!
Shop in-store, and shop often: Shipping delays will be a problem this year, so try heading to your favorite retailers in-person. Some stores have more stock than others, and they all typically have a lot of backstock early on and will hopefully restock shelves regularly until the toys run out. Keep checking back, and keep in mind that “in-stock” alerts are not always 100 percent accurate or reliable. Plus, you get to leave with your toys that very same day—no wait times!
Make wish lists ASAP: Ask kids to think about what they want now, rather than waiting until you’re pulling out the holiday decorations. Be sure to share those lists with friends and family so they can get a jump on their shopping, too.
Budget more for toys: Toy prices are increasing in 2021. While some toys may only increase by $2 to $3, larger toys like dollhouses and ride-ons may increase significantly and can sometimes be as high as 10 percent more than normal. This is due to shipping issues, increasing costs of raw materials, and other factors affecting the toy industry.
Verify your ship dates: If shopping online, double-check the estimated arrival dates, and keep checking the tracking. Don’t assume things will just show up on time, and don’t expect to rely on services like two-day shipping.
Think outside the Big Box: Shop small for toys! Specialty retailers that placed orders with toy manufacturers early in the year will be well-stocked with toys, and you’ll be supporting a local business with your purchase. Plus, these local toy stores often have those hot toys you’re looking for, and they even offer convenient services, such as gift wrapping!
Avoid third-party resellers: Resellers on sites like eBay, Amazon, and Walmart often hike up the prices of hard-to-find toys or will sell items that are many years old. Be sure that you are buying directly from certified retailers by checking the “sold by” and “ships from” sections on these sites.
Buy trusted brands: Use the Toy Insider’s Holiday Gift Guide to ensure you are purchasing toys made by reputable companies, or select brand names you already know and love. Avoid knock-off, counterfeit items as they are not properly safety-tested, and may be of lower quality.
The Epoch Times: What price impacts should shoppers expect this year?
Ms. Breyer: Consumers should anticipate small price increases at lower price levels, and larger increases for higher ticket items. We’re seeing prices jump from $12.99 to $14.99, $19.99 to $24.99, and $199 to $250, for example.
The Epoch Times: Are there any toys or toy categories that will not be impacted by this year’s supply chain issues?
Ms. Breyer: Products that are manufactured in North America should not be nearly as impacted, if at all. Video games that can be purchased and downloaded electronically are a sure thing.