Toys, appliances and handbags: These are the items you may not get in time for the holidays
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.
On the plus side, Wagar says retail supply is very strong at the moment – which is where that consumer sense of urgency should come in.
“Every year there are hot holiday toys that sell out faster and faster than others,” Wagar explained.
“That's going to happen this year, just like it happens every year. However, those items are going to be replenished slower than usual. On top of that, if you're ordering items online, they are probably going to experience longer than usual shipping periods.”
“Meaning if you wait, the items that your child covets may not arrive until after December 24th.”
Wagar’s advice for parents: do not wait to get your hands on the toys your child wants this year. By his own estimates, waiting until the beginning of November to start shopping is too late.
And if you’re holding out for Black Friday deals, you may be out of luck.
“If you wait and you try to take advantage of discounts that typically happen starting around Black Friday... you're likely going to be disappointed,” Wagar said. “We're anticipating that those discounts are going to be much harder to find.”
FURNITURE AND APPLIANCES
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.
HANDBAGS, SHOES AND CLOTHING
According to Wasylyshen, sought after designer brands are also grappling with shipping concerns, leading to a shortage in things like handbags, shoes and clothing.
“My colleague was telling me earlier today [that] he was talking to a particular designer and her entire line of new handbags is sitting on a container in the L.A harbour,” she said.
Nike, for example, is one global brand that says its holiday shopping season will be impacted by shipping container shortages and a lack of workers. During an earnings call on Sept. 23, the brand said these issues will impact the production and delivery of its goods around the world through Spring 2022.
When it comes to these types of consumer goods, Wasylyshen says consumers should be flexible and keep in mind that they may have to substitute for a different brand or model when shopping.
“We know right now that the supply chain is kind of jammed up at every node and it's coupled with the perfect storm of labor shortages,” she explained. “It's easier to stop a supply chain than it is to restart. So it is going to take some time to normalize.”
While tires aren’t at the top of most consumers’ holiday shopping lists, a lack of supply could affect holiday travel plans.
Although many shops say they are well stocked with inventory now, experts warn that some sizes could sell out and be harder to restock by late fall, early winter.
“Last year, when COVID-19 started, there was a big pause in production at most of the tire manufacturers," Ron Pierce, Ontario Regional Director with Kal Tire, told CTV News Toronto Monday. “I would really recommend shopping early, especially if you are looking for a specific brand or sizing. There will be sizes and tires that will not be available out there.”