We haven’t gotten through Halloween yet, but some of your customers are probably already doing their holiday and Christmas shopping. According to USA Today, a RetailMeNot survey found 37% of US consumers began shopping for holiday gifts in August and September or earlier. An additional 22% said they’d start shopping in October, and 24% planned to start in November ahead of Thanksgiving.
Holidays this year are going to be tough for consumers, retailers, and the shipping industry. We have reported COVID-related kinks in the supply chain several times since the beginning of the global pandemic. Still, this holiday season is when shippers and consumers will feel it most.
If your customers are ordering products online, you will likely need to make clear that shipping may take longer than expected. Consumers, in turn, will have to be prepared to make purchases earlier or face the problem of the specific model and make of product they want not being in stock or able to ship in time for the holidays.
Early Holiday Shopping (And Shipping) Is Mandatory Due To Container Shortages & More
Holiday shipping rushes are nothing new in retail. Most years, we expect a spike in purchases around the holiday season and Black Friday sales. In previous years, it was much simpler to adjust your supply chain to account for the influx. However, due to COVID port shutdowns, shipping container shortages, and a global slowing in production, there are new elements of your supply chain that feel out of your control.
The rush of products landing in US ports for the holiday gifting seasons has pressured logistics companies to hire enough truck drivers to unload and ship containers. However, many are unable to hire quality staff fast enough. This creates a blockage in the chain as goods sit in the ports waiting to be unloaded. There is a global shortage of shipping containers, and the empty containers need to be shipped back to countries such as China and Vietnam when consumer goods are produced but instead are sitting in US ports. Then it slows down the next delivery.
Port closures are another factor creating kinks in the supply chain. If a port gets shut down because of COVID outbreaks or natural causes such as severe weather, this holds up the supply chain and creates a ripple effect that ends with unhappy consumers waiting for their holiday gifts.
Back in July of 2021, a typhoon hit coastal China and several of its large ports faced closure. Not only were the ports closed, but air and rail closures meant there was a complete standstill in the movement of goods.
Meidong Container Terminal, the third-largest port globally, was shut down because of a single positive COVID test. The closure of the port had a huge impact on global supply chains.
New variants of the COVID-19 virus are playing a big role in port closures. Many ports have put in strict protocols to prevent the spreading of new and more harmful variants. But as port closures become more frequent and containers filled with product sit in ports, shipping becomes more expensive. This makes it harder for retailers to import goods and could lead to Americans having a holiday season that empties the bank account more than they budgeted for.
As shortages of goods and supply chain problems continue to strike through the global shipping industry, both consumers and retailers need to get ahead. Intelligent consumers will make purchases well before the holidays and retailers will need to be forward-thinking and have contingency plans in place in the event that their goods get held up.
Contact Freight Management, Inc. to ensure your supply chain logistics are in order this holiday season!