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How Shortages and Delays Affect Small Businesses


Supply Chain Shortages Are Impacting The Global Market, Here’s Why

Supply chain bottlenecks create shortages and price inflation around the world. Biden has released a plan that could help ease the blockage at LA ports.


ESSEX – You don’t want to explain to your child why Santa Claus couldn’t make his Christmas wish list? The the solution is to shop early for the holidays.

“Last year I was worried. This year I am more than worried,” Peter Sloan, co-owner of Turner Toys in Essex, said of problems getting the product in his store to sell. Items just don’t arrive fast enough, according to Sloan, which will make it a tough holiday shopping season.

With extreme shortages of products and drivers to ship retail items across the country, the effects of the The COVID-19 pandemic continues to clog the retail pipeline. Toys, sporting goods, bicycles, and electronics – the top holiday gifts for kids – should all be hard to find this season.

Local businesses have anticipated the backlog and made some adjustments where they can, but there are strategies consumers can use to make sure kiddo doesn’t get disappointed on Christmas morning.

Why is there a supply chain problem?

The toy market supply has shrunk while the demand for toys has increased, according to Sloan, owner of Turner Toys with his wife Elizabeth Skinner, who has been closely monitoring the business pipeline for the past six months.

At a major toy show in August, he said, the thing on everyone’s lips was “how are we going to get the product?” A major supplier said it typically has 117 containers full of goods at this point in the year, but only received five.

Following: Biden administration seeks to resolve supply shortages with Walmart, UPS and FedEx by Christmas

Items can be delayed for months, with outages at several points along the shipping pipeline.

Factories closed in China due to COVID-19 have not been able to produce enough since reopening to catch up. In some cases, factories have stopped producing because their storage areas are full and they are waiting for the last product created on their lines to be shipped, according to Sloan.

Transport problems are the cause of a large part of the delays. A shortage of drivers means goods are not getting into shipping containers. Because so many containers are lining up, securing a place on a ship can be a challenge. Many ships that have made the transoceanic voyage are waiting to dock in the Southern California harbor. (On October 13, the Biden administration announced a number of steps to alleviate supply chain issues, including news that ports would expand to 24/7 operation.)

Southern California ports see cargo backlog

Dozens of freighters wait outside ports near Los Angeles as import demands increase amid the easing of pandemic restrictions. Rising sea traffic is increasing the demand for ports to handle more cargo, forcing a snag in the US supply chain. (September 22)


Rail lines move goods to warehouses on the east coast. The lack of tractor-trailer drivers is delaying the movement of items from warehouses to individual stores. Even the decline of commercial air transport affected the movement of goods. Often, carriers supplement their income by providing cargo space on their planes for products.

Christmas 2021 shipping times: FedEx, UPS, and USPS say last days to ship gifts

The same supply issues plagued outdoor gear, making it much more difficult to put a new bike under the tree this year.

Pat Miller, owner of North Star Sports in Burlington, said it was bad last year, but even worse this season.

“They give us an estimate, but we can’t really rely on that estimate to be factual,” Miller said of the bike makers advising him of the inventory to expect.

An increased demand for toys and outdoor sports equipment during the pandemic has only worsened the bottlenecks. Sloan suggested that the rise in toy purchases may be due to people looking to add variety to activities at home, a desire for children to have more fun in response to the increase in time spent in front of them. a screen, or to people with more disposable income as a result of not eating out or buying fuel as often to get to work.

LEGO, Pokémon, puzzles affected

One of Sloan’s best brands in his store is LEGO. Because the Mexican factory that assembles the LEGO kits has been shut down for several months, Sloan said he only received 18% of his September order.

Another hard-hit item is Pokémon Trading Cards. The store had to ration and limit the number of Pokémon items a person can buy because they ran out of stock within four days of receiving it. Right now, shoppers can purchase one available product per day, but the store plans to restrict it even more to one Pokémon product per person as the holidays approach.

One of Sloan’s main puzzle suppliers has decided to stop accepting orders. Sloan doesn’t care. “I think they’re honest,” he said, as other vendors take orders but don’t fulfill them.

Sloan has sought out other puzzle suppliers to diversify their offerings in the hopes that not all will be affected equally. Likewise, it stores other building activity sets to satisfy the desire to build toys, like LEGO. For role-playing card game collectors, Magic the Gathering sets weren’t as hard to find as Pokémon. Tonka trucks can be very difficult to find. The company no longer ships items to America at this time. They have chosen to fill their containers with smaller items, increasing the total amount of money that can be earned per item.

In the bicycle industry, some consumers recently received their bikes a year after ordering them, and companies plan to not be able to ship certain specific bikes until 2023, according to Miller.

But stocks are still coming in, but much slower. Miller said Monday morning that they had received a handful of bikes they weren’t expecting.

How to shop smart this holiday season

Retailers are doing what they can to alleviate the effects of item shortages this holiday season, in some cases by stocking merchandise months in advance. Sloan and some of his toy store owner counterparts, who have observed the problems, placed their Christmas orders starting in June. Sloan said he continues to order more because he continues to browse Christmas stock.

“My basement is full of products, the garage is full of products, my wife’s beautiful car is in the driveway,” Sloan said. “And we also have two offsite storage units. “

Are the shelves of grocery stores bare? : These products can be difficult to find during supply chain disruptions

Sloan said he expects FedEx and UPS backups to make it harder to get online orders in a timely manner this year, so in-store shopping could work well.

There are some things consumers can do to make the shopping season more productive, Sloan said. Most importantly, start shopping early. October’s shopping, he predicts, will give people the best chance of finding what they want.

“If you see it today, buy it today,” he suggests. Do not expect to come back later and be able to find an item in stock. If you’re looking for something and can’t see it, don’t be afraid to ask the clerk, he says. They may have the item in stock.

Waiting lists and special orders are underway, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get your item by Christmas, Sloan said. Turner Toys already has four dozen names on waiting lists for particular items. Once the product arrives, it starts by contacting the person at the top of the list.

Miller echoed Sloan’s sentiments, saying “if you see something, don’t wait” and start shopping for the holidays now. She also said waiting lists are bigger than ever. When inventory arrives, the first thing they do is place calls on the waiting list, and if those people come by, then it goes on the floor to buy walk-in. Miller said his shop is no longer taking deposits or suspending products, so be prepared to pay in full.

Miller has also stated that he is in contact with your local store.

“Sometimes they can give you information that could help you know if something is going to show up or not,” she said.

Be flexible, says Sloan. Consider purchasing complementary products instead of a specific brand. Miller said it was an unsecured season.

Expect a price increase as well. Shipping costs have increased tenfold – it used to cost $ 3,000 to ship a container, now it’s often $ 30,000, Sloan said. Some of that expense is passed on to the consumer, and items that have held the same retail value for five years have suddenly become more expensive. Sloan believes prices will hold over the holidays, but could rise again after the first of the year.

Sloan said he had never seen anything like it in the ten years he and his wife had been in the toy business. The only way out is with a dose of understanding and holiday spirit.

Following: Polar Express train in Burlington has stopped this holiday season due to track work, COVID

Contact reporter April Barton at [email protected] or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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