Even though we’re just now starting to see Halloween decorations in the stores, it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping. This is especially true when you consider the impact that the ongoing pandemic could have on shopping this year.
It’s anticipated that the pandemic will once again be a factor in holiday shopping like it was last year. For example, there might be shortages of certain items, especially “hot” gifts this season, and shipping delays, especially as Christmas draws closer. In addition, rising inflation may result in higher prices on everything from gifts to groceries.
Expect Ongoing Shortages
In a recent interview on Fox Business, one retail analyst predicted ongoing shortages of ships, containers, workers, truckers and more between now and the Christmas holidays.
“The prices will be significantly higher as we get from back-to-school this month to holiday shopping in November and December,” he said. “As more of the goods disappear, from appliances and computers to luxury goods, those prices will keep being raised by the month or even by the week.”
Due to these shortages and the overall trend of rising inflation, the analyst believes that the prices for many goods could be 20 percent to 30 percent higher between the end of September and Christmas.
Impact of Supply Chain Disruptions
We have seen over the past year how complex and interconnected supply chains can impact the availability of goods that we usually take for granted. Disruptions in these supply chains, such as the one caused by the blockage of the Suez Canal for six days in March by a stuck container ship, have ripple effects that are felt all over the world.
When you add in supply chain disruptions caused by the ongoing pandemic, the effects on the 2021 Christmas shopping season could be even more drastic. For example, many toymakers and tech manufacturers are already having difficulty navigating the supply chain and keeping store shelves stocked. Still, toy sales were up 40 percent year-over-year in September.
Large and bulky items like furniture, TVs and appliances will probably be most affected by supply chain disruptions while smaller items like jewelry, personal accessories, clothing and footwear will likely be least affected.
Start Shopping Early
We all know someone who usually has their Christmas shopping done before Halloween. This year, early shopping might be the key to saving money and aggravation and being able to actually find the items that are on your gift list.
Not surprisingly, there will probably be even more online shopping and in-store digital experiences available to consumers due to the delta variant. The hybrid model of buying items online and picking them up in the store will also likely be widespread, as will extended return windows, waived shipping fees for orders above a certain amount and exclusive online-only deals.
Keep these trends and predictions in mind as you start thinking about and planning for Christmas shopping this year.