by Tiffanie Stanard
CEO, Stimulus, Inc.
Tiffanie Stanard is CEO & Founder of Stimulus, a woman-owned technology company based in Philadelphia. Stimulus' relationship intelligence SaaS software uses data and analytics to help companies across industries make better purchasing decisions and build stronger relationships with their suppliers. With COVID-19 disrupting the global supply chain, Tiffanie shares some insights and tips to help buyers navigate the holidays in 2021.
Online shopping, crowded shipping ports, labor issues, and other items will continue to affect another holiday season, especially Black Friday. For the shoppers who like to plan ahead, they will find themselves disappointed, with shipping delays and product shortages—thanks to global supply chain issues—resulting in holiday shipping delays.
The holiday season has always been stressful on supply chains, but that stress has for the most part been predictable – increased retail visitors, higher demand for consumer goods, larger crowds in airports, and spikes in purchases of unusual products like Christmas trees are all par for the course.
As reported by U.S. News, prices are rising due to a surge in shipping costs. At this time last year, ocean freight rates from China to the U.S. West Coast were $3,847 per 40-foot container. Now, the same container will cost $17,377 to ship.
Large retailers have taken matters into their own hands by hiring transportation solutions, flying in the products, or enhancing capacity in their warehouses to ensure products are available for this upcoming season. If the product is available in-stores, consumers will have to plan for in-person shopping to avoid shipping issues and the possibility of not obtaining their desired purchase. The bright side is the delays are pushing more shoppers to support local and diverse businesses.
2020-2021 has shown us that nothing can be taken for granted this year, and businesses should be prepared to extend that logic to the holidays.
According to the latest U.S. Census Small Businesses Pulse Survey, 45% of businesses are having domestic supplier delays. In January, only 26% of businesses reported those issues in the same survey.
Below are predictions and tips for this year:
There are several issues impacting holiday shopping – including a shortage of shipping staff and a significant increase in shipping and transportation time. 40% of goods imported to the U.S. by sea come from Asia and those goods are taking twice as long to arrive as they did for holiday season 2019. Shopping early and local can help!
The holidays include lots of cooking and eating. This year we're seeing an increase on the food consumer price index of 4.6% over last year. What does that mean for you? Your favorite meals and ingredients may cost a little bit more this year – and you'll need to prepare for shortages.
Experts are already predicting that supply chain issues will have a big impact on the increase in 'out-of-stock messages' on websites (and in-stores) across industries. The highest out-of-stock levels are expected in apparel, sporting goods, baby products, and electronics.
Businesses across the country are preparing for longer shipping times, higher prices, and outages when it comes to their products and small businesses are being hit the hardest.
Our recommendation: If you're able, consider the supply chain in your holiday planning by shopping early, shopping small, and shopping local. Support small businesses and avoid the rush.