“Buy it when you see it.” Retailers fear holiday shortages – twin cities

By MAE ANDERSON

NEW YORK (AP) – The Perfect Pigg, a gift shop owned by Ginger Pigg, is the place where residents of Cumming, Georgia, can pick up gift items like children’s toys and home supplies.

But this year, store shelves may be a little sparse. Due to bottlenecks in the global supply chain, many stores like Pigg’s are struggling to try to get all the stock they can ahead of the crucial Christmas shopping season.

“I’m a little stressed,” said Pigg, who has about 60% of the Christmas stock she usually has at this time. Some stock she ordered in July has not arrived yet. “I feel like I’ve done everything I could do,” she said. “I hope and pray that it all comes in.”

The global supply chain has been hit by a host of problems, ranging from factories that had to close due to COVID-19 increases, lack of containers to ship goods in, backups in ports and department stores and shortages of hauliers.

While larger retailers such as Walmart and Target have the power to buy their own containers, use air freight and take other steps to ensure they get inventory, smaller retailers are at the mercy of their suppliers, who increasingly suspend delivery guarantees and sometimes do not communicate at all. .

For Pigg, a pepper jelly she sells usually has a turnaround time of two weeks; now it takes four to six weeks to arrive, with no guarantee that it will arrive at all. An order she placed on the jelly in July was delivered in October. And she has trouble getting hold of various things, like shopping bags and candles, due to the lack of wicks and glassware that the candles come in.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” she said.

Last year, Renee Silverman, owner of Irv’s Luggage in Vernon, Illinois, did not purchase luggage prior to the holiday – no one traveled. This year, people are traveling and need luggage – but now the problem is finding luggage to sell them.

Stocks due to arrive in August and September have been pushed back to December due to supply problems. Silverman has tried to spread orders between five or six suppliers, such as Samsonite and Ricardo Beverly Hills.

Meanwhile, prices are rising due to an increase in shipping costs. At this point last year, sea freight rates from China to the US West Coast were $ 3,847 per tonne. 40 foot container. Now, the same container will cost $ 17,377 to ship, according to Freightos, a Hong Kong-based online freight marketplace.

Most suppliers that Silverman works with have raised prices once or twice over the last six months to compensate for the rising costs – usually raising prices once every few years. So she tried to place orders ahead of the price increases.

“I feel like I have 14 plates spinning in the air, not knowing what’s coming, when,” she said. “Sellers do not call back or have no answer.”

Most of the delays involve inventory coming from China and to a lesser extent Thailand, she said. Her suppliers have told her that the delays are due to the ports being backed up.

The average time it takes for sea freight to go door-to-door has increased by 45% over the past year, from 51 days to 74 days, according to Freightos. Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States. Monday night, 73 container ships were at anchor waiting to unload.

Normally, there is no waiting time for container ships to unload, said Kevin Ketels, a lecturer in global supply chain management at Wayne State University.

“There are big delays,” he said.

Rob Pickering, owner of five Snapdoodle Toys & Games stores in the Seattle area, said ordering for the holiday has “been a real struggle.”

Large holiday orders, typically placed in August, were instead moved up to July. So the company’s stock and stocks are more full than usual for this time of year.

Still, some items Pickering ordered in June and July have not arrived. Some smaller toy manufacturers have already stopped taking and filling out more orders for the holidays. Some popular items, including Ravensburger puzzles and Bruder trucks, both imported from Germany, are likely to be off the shelves long before Christmas, Pickering said.

“We tell our customers to buy it when you see it and we have no plans to hope to buy it later in the season,” he said.

Some retailers have switched production or created their own private label products to try to have more control over the stock they have on the shelves.

Chris Lynch is the co-founder of Everyday California, in La Jolla, California, a clothing brand with an online store and retail store along with an adventure travel company.

He has experienced supply chain problems “across the board,” he said. COVID-19 cases rose in Vietnam in July and August, forcing some factories manufacturing hats and other headgear to shut down. And there have been transportation issues with manufacturers in China, where he gets items like hoodies and sweatshirts.

Lynch moved some production closer to home. He makes popular things like hats and T-shirts in Tijuana, Mexico. But he still faces delays due to lack of raw materials.

Christine Noh, CEO of Nohble, an independent chain of five shoe and clothing stores in New York and New Jersey, says she’s scared of the upcoming holiday season. Her inventory has dropped by 58% and half of the shelves in her warehouse are empty. Big shoe brands like Nike and Adidas were hit hard when factories in Vietnam closed.

Noh started a private label line to help make sure there is enough stock in the stores. The line makes fleece athletic kits and basic t-shirts. It is made in Bangladesh, where she has a relationship with the factory.

“When we place an order with them, we have more communication and visibility,” she said. And she chose to air transport some of the clothes to make sure it got in.

Timing is the key because of the short holiday window.

“If everything shows up in January, it’s not really useful,” she said. “Therefore, there is a sense that everyone is holding their breath collectively.”

This article has been corrected to show that the correct name of Nohble shoe store is Nohble, not Nohbles.

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