That faint sound in the distance that you sort of pay attention to every once in a while? That sound that you think you've been hearing since summer but don't stop to think much about?
It's the oncoming supply chain train and it's about to ruin your Christmas.
For several months, some news outlets and industry experts have been sounding the alarm as to what our holiday shopping season will look like. You may have begun to notice it here and there as select items in your favorite big box retailer and grocery store have been missing for a few weeks.
This is only the beginning. Stock up now, or pay the price.
I finished most of my Christmas shopping before Halloween. Being in the retail, logistics, and gift industries, my antennae have been tuned to this growing warning signal, so I started browsing and buying for my loved ones. If you haven't started holiday shopping yet, you need to start (and finish) as soon as you can. By Friday, if possible.
So what's the deal?
Last year, half a world away, COVID shut down production in many places. While stockpiles of goods existed, our collective online shopping habits grew (thanks, stimulus and stock market!) so those stockpiles were depleted be early 2022 and production hasn't yet caught up.
Technology chips have gotten most of the headlines so far. But since the supply chain is - wait for it - a chain, when one link goes down, the whole thread breaks. Not enough containers. Or ships. Or boat captains. Or docks. Or trucks. Or drivers. COVID tipped the first domino early last year; since then they've all been falling.
Relief will come, but maybe not until early 2023. Yikes. So what can you do now?
1) Shop. Now.
Over half of US consumers have already begun. If you see something that is the perfect stocking stuffer or thoughtful present, scoop it up and find a place to hide it. Or, use retailers (like us!) that let you buy now and ship later. You can purchase any gift on our website and we'll wait to ship it for you later in December to arrive closer to Christmas.
2) Give experiences, not stuff.
No one wants more plastic crap. Not even your Paw Patrol obsessed toddler. This year, stock up on restaurant gift cards for springtime brunches. Give your parents a weekend staycation or some rounds of golf. Axe throwing, pottery lessons, and even curling can create more memories than tickle-able Elmos.
3) Buy American.
While you still don't want to wait until the last minute to patronize your favorite local small business for gifts, giving American-made gifts means that items will be in stock and ready for gifting. I'm proud to say that none of our chocolate bars, candles, seasonings, soap, or snacks were or ever have been on a shipping barge in the middle of the Pacific.
I don't know now else to say it: shelves will be empty. The real question is if your stockings and tree will be, too.
Shop early and often. American small businesses are ready for you.