TAMPA — “It’s the perfect storm, right? We’re hearing about this everywhere,” said Robert Hooker, Professor of Supply Chain Management at the University of South Florida.
Nationwide we're dealing with supply chain problems that will have a big impact on holiday shopping.
“Many times supply chains are resilient enough to power through one or two challenges at a time but right now we just have a slew of issues, a cornucopia of issues all happening at once,” said Hooker.
Those issues include labor shortages, transportation problems, logistics costs like higher fuel prices, and many people in the supply chain industry haven’t returned to work yet.
All of that means there’s going to be a lack of availability of some products, so you must plan ahead.
“People might have to purchase out of stock that exists in Europe, other parts of the world and know that it’s going to take longer for those products to reach them if at all,” said Hooker.
“The theme of holiday shopping is an early start and early definitely means now,” said Kristin McGrath, Editor for The Real Deal blog for RetailMeNot.
If you see something you want, don’t wait to buy it.
“We’ve seen this early start happen even before the pandemic but the supply chain issues, the labor shortages, the chip shortages, everything is really accelerating the early start this year,” said McGrath.
Experts say if you wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to buy something online, it’s likely it won’t get to you in time for Christmas this year.
“Even last year we were seeing some items take 3 weeks to arrive,” said McGrath.
“This year with labor shortages, with shortages on distribution centers, with supply chain issues, ordering on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, which is just a month out from the holidays, is going to be really risky this year,” she added.
All of these problems will affect how much you pay for things too. Consumer experts are seeing prices rise.
“So for example right now the containers that we use to ship a lot of products across oceans are exponentially more expensive right now because of lack of availability. We have those container ships floating off the coasts that aren’t able to get in ports,” said Hooker.
He says things like this are driving up prices.
“That’s why you might see that toy that you were used to spending say $20 or $25 for that’s now $35 or $40,” he added.
“Supply could be really low. So even if you see a very exciting price on something for an absolute bargain the number of items behind that price may be very low and you might not get it at all,” said McGrath.
These issues are being felt in Tampa Bay and across the nation. Unfortunately, experts say they’re going to last a while longer.
“We’re expecting this to continue on until next year for sure. Probably through much of next year. It may actually get a little worse before it gets better. So again my advice to consumers would be plan ahead, be patient, know that there’s going to be a lack of availability of some products that we normally buy, and just kind of grin and bear it as best we can,” said Hooker.