Consumers preparing to enter the frenzied holiday shopping environment should bring an ample supply of patience with them, whether they’re shopping online or in-person, or whether they’re searching for that ideal gift or looking to secure ingredients for their family’s traditional holiday meal.
Supply chains stressed to or beyond their limits have led to retailers with depleted shelves barren of merchandise while online retailers struggle to get their products to customers. What strategies can shoppers use to cope with the present circumstances?
Brad Wilson resides in Drexel Hill. He orders his groceries online and points out that availability tends to run in cycles.
“I’ve noticed things seem to come in waves so to speak,” he said. “There’s a certain tea I like to buy. And, it’s not stocked, it’s not stocked, it’s not stocked. And then it is in stock. (Items) are not impossible to get, but then for two or three weeks you can’t get them, and then they’re back. I have not been able to buy something I want, that has not been a problem. But, over a period of time, you notice things aren’t available, and then they are.”
When it comes to the holidays Wilson says consumers may need to spend additional time in search mode.
“I think you might be able to find what you want. But you’re going to have to look in more different places,” he said. “I also think for holiday groceries and things, where you’re talking about turkeys, or beef roasts, the big items people like to cook on the holidays, I think that could be a problem. I think people who wait until the last minute and don’t plan properly could really have a problem. I think if you start planning and are prepared to jump two or three more hurdles than you normally have, I think you’ll be okay.”
Consumers may have a long wait if they’ve ordered a big-ticket item, such as a home computer.
When reached by phone, an Apple sales representative anticipated a wait of 22 days from the date an item was purchased online to the date of delivery, although she indicated that estimate changes daily and varies depending on the time the item is purchased.
David Galluch, a Newtown Square resident who is running for Congress in Delaware County, holds an economics degree from the Naval Academy. He says the current crisis is fueling inflation.
“In the midst of a supply chain crisis you have too much money chasing too few goods,” he said. “That’s one of the primary impetuses behind inflation.”
Galluch doubts supply-chain issues are going away any time soon.
“The supply crisis is so deep,” he said, “And it’s going to take significant amounts of time for supply to catch up with demand and for productivity-enhancing investments and infrastructure investments to expand. I think this is probably here to stay for at least a year, if not more.”
With that in mind, Galluch says it’s safe to assume inflation isn’t going away either.
“I think, unfortunately, you have to make the assumption, for your own financial well-being, that inflation is not a transitory thing,” he said.
Which leaves shoppers with the challenge of navigating an arduous path as the holidays approach. Harleysville resident Kevin Hunter is making it a point to get his shopping done as early as possible. He makes his holiday purchases online
“I’ll probably try to get everything early and give (retailers) plenty of time,” he said. “Probably hoping by the end of November at the latest I have everything ordered.”