Supply chain disruptions have been troubling the global economy this year. Now Christmas gift shoppers are set to get a nasty surprise as the most popular presents are either severely overpriced or missing from shelves altogether.
In the UK, for instance, some of the most sought-after items are being sold online with mark-ups of more than 70% while being out of stock in official stores. Gadgets such as game consoles, iPads, and small household electronics are scarce because of the global shortage of microchips – a shortfall resellers are using to their advantage. According to The Guardian, the Microsoft Xbox Series X, launched in November 2020, typically sells for around $600, but was nearly sold out at most retailers last week. It was, however, on sale at the online marketplace onbuy.com – for almost $900.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a multitude of problems for retailers and shoppers alike. It has been behind both major slowdowns and a drop in production levels, amid factory closures. And it has caused a spike in online shopping, which has brought about bottlenecks at ports, where too many cargo ships are waiting to unload too many shipping containers with the help of too few dock workers. There’s now also a shortage of truck drivers to pick up those goods once they’re unloaded, and a shortage of warehouse workers to unload the trucks. Finally, even cardboard boxes for packing the goods themselves are in short supply. And that complex situation is virtually the same in every country.
In Russia, the public was warned last month that, in the weeks to come, household appliances in stores could jump in price by another 13 to 15%, power tools by 11%, and electronics by 9%.
According to a recent “All I Want for Christmas” survey by Vienna-based e-marketing firm Emarsys, 30% of consumers are worried their gifts won’t be available in time to be handed over to the recipient on Christmas Day.
Christmas has always been the peak season for retailers, but experts say this holiday period, it’s not only gadgets that might be in short supply, but even books, toys, and apparel. Remember those grandma’s closet-style Christmas sweaters? Count yourself lucky if you get one!
In the US, both the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch are facing stock issues, while it’s also hard to find some laptops, TVs, and smartphones on the shelves. Retailers are trying to calm themselves by saying that, albeit on a smaller scale, this happens every year amid the pre-holiday retail rush.
Still, many experts are advising consumers to consider gift-hunting at local stores or even thrift shops. Or one could always settle on a gift card, a subscription, or even a picture of the very gift that won’t make it under the Christmas tree in time due to delivery delays. Beggars can’t be choosers, after all.
Some analysts are predicting this situation won’t be resolved until next Christmas or even the one after that, and that it will take 18 to 24 months before things return to even semi-normal.
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