Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 21, 2021
The Great Pandemic Supply Chain Crunch
When it comes to holiday shopping, consumers are no strangers to the mantra “the early bird gets the worm.”
But, thanks to ongoing global supply chain issues, the 2021 holiday shopping season is expected to have a large impact on the availability and price of many products. In fact, experts warn that the window to get your hands on some of these coveted items before Dec. 24 is already closing.
When it comes to the season’s most sought-after gifts – toys – experts say the problem starts in manufacturing, from a shortage of plastic materials to a lack of chips for computerized toys.
“Almost every toy company is facing challenges, getting goods shipped from a manufacturing point of origin that’s outside of North America,” Andrew Wagar with the Canadian Toy Association told CTVNews.ca by phone Tuesday.
“Obviously, the ones that are manufacturing in Asia and in China in particular are the most affected by this. But there are toy companies that manufacture their goods in North America that are also experiencing challenges because there are ground transportation shortages and increases in gas prices.”
Shipping costs have also dramatically increased for toymakers. According to CNN, storage containers are so scarce and expensive that many companies have turned to small, squishy toys that use less packaging and take up less space to cut down on costs.
Similarly, furniture and appliance retailers are grappling with supply and demand issues.
Last week, Ikea, the world’s biggest furniture brand, warned that it anticipates supply disruptions to last well into 2022, despite leasing more ships, buying containers and re-routing goods between warehouses.
Ikea’s stores in North America are the hardest hit by product shortages, followed by Europe. To avoid disappointing shoppers, the company is temporarily removing unavailable products from its websites and store showrooms, instead suggesting similar items.
Big-ticket appliances are also hard to come by, with consumers waiting months for products to arrive.
“If you want a chest freezer, you’re looking at December. But if you want a MacBook, you’re looking at the middle of November, so not that bad,” Michelle Wasylyshen, national spokesperson for Retail Council of Canada (RCC). “It really does depend on the product, but certainly consumers should expect delays.”
The price of these types of goods is also rising.
According to Statistics Canada, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, durable goods have been a major contributor to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Furniture costs went up 8.7 per cent and household appliances rose 5.3 per cent in August 2021 compared to July, according to the latest data available – increases that are attributed to supply chain disruptions. (CTV)