Shortages Mean Even Early Bird Shoppers Are Struggling

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one half

The Balance

That’s how many early holiday shoppers have already found their items out of stock, back-ordered, or delayed—even online, according to new survey results underscoring the global supply chain problem.

Of the 686 adults who told Morning Consult they’d already started their holiday shopping earlier this month, 51% said they’d found an item they wanted out of stock at a store, 54% said an item they’d chosen was out of stock online, and 49% said a selection of theirs was either back-ordered or delayed in delivery.

The difficulty even the earliest holiday shoppers are experiencing shows how snarled the supply chain has become because of pandemic-related fallout over the past year and a half. To help alleviate the shortages and bottlenecks, President Joe Biden said this week the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest seaport in the country, had committed to adding more shifts and ultimately operating around the clock. Retailers and shippers including Walmart, FedEx and Home Depot have also pledged to add shifts to move more cargo, ease congestion and get more goods to more people, the White House said.

But even that may not be enough to get all the presents in time, especially given how many people have yet to start their shopping. As the economy has reopened after pandemic-related restrictions, a shortage of workers, including truckers, as well as a sudden surge in consumer demand has made it almost impossible for suppliers and retail businesses to catch up. Compounding bottlenecks are not only making things scarce for consumers, but a lot more expensive.

“There’s no quick fix to the multiple, simultaneous issues that are presently restraining growth,” Oren Klachkin, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a commentary. "Our supply chain tracker signals that stress is still rising, and we don’t expect these challenges to meaningfully dissipate until well into 2022.” 

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