Before the COVID-19, few people gave much thought to the global supply chain. It’s a different story now that a tangle of problems with the international supply and shipping of goods has led to shortages and higher prices for everything from pickles and couches to cars and clothing.
And yes, it’s looking very much like supply chain slowdowns will cause shortages that affect your holidays.
Many shoppers seem to know they’re in for a difficult season ahead. According to a new survey from Oracle, 27% of those polled are worried the products they want for the holidays won’t be available, and 28% are anxious that prices will be higher due to shortages.
Here are some of the classic holiday goods you may have trouble finding in stock this year — at least at the price you’re accustomed to paying.
Toys: This year, hot holiday toys are likely to be more expensive and harder to find in stock — or both. Many popular toys are manufactured overseas, and gridlock in the global supply chain has meant that fewer of these prized holiday gifts are making it to U.S. stores.
Toy company executives say that products from brands like Fisher Price and L.O.L. Surprise! are stuck in factories awaiting shipping, or they’re at ports sitting on shipping containers, waiting to be unloaded. Meanwhile, toy giants Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO said this past summer they’ll be raising prices due to higher shipping costs.
As we’ve previously reported, shoppers should expect to pay extra for holiday gifts this year — consumer prices will perhaps be 20% higher compared to last year, Salesforce has forecast. Back in late summer, we also reported that buying holiday gifts extra early this year could be a smart move.
Turkeys: Don’t freak out: You will be able to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving. But be prepared for the possibility that it may not be the size or kind of turkey you want, and you’ll be paying more for the turkey you do get.
Experts say that a shortage of labor in poultry processing plants, combined with recent changes in production, means certain turkeys will cost more and will be harder to find in stores. Specifically, turkeys in the 14- to 16-pound range — the most popular sizes around Thanksgiving — will be scarcest.
Consumers have had to cope with higher meat costs for well over a year, and we’re not just talking turkey.
“Throughout the pandemic, the cost of production for meat processing has been significantly higher. This shouldn’t be a surprise by now,” James Mitchell, extension agricultural economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said in August. “We have seen similar issues with boneless hams and value-added pork. Some proactive planning from our holiday cooks is probably warranted.”
Phil Lempert, known as the “Supermarket Guru,” told Consumer Reports that shoppers should anticipate prices for Thanksgiving turkeys (and all meat products) to be 10% to 15% more expensive. Smaller fresh turkeys weighing 16 pounds or less will be more likely to sell out or see particularly high price hikes.
Christmas trees: The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) is obviously in the business of promoting Christmas tree sales, so take this for what it’s worth: The group is advising shoppers to buy early this year because there could be shortages of both artificial and live Christmas trees.
“In 2021, we’re seeing a variety of trends influencing artificial and live Christmas tree supply across the country, and are encouraging consumers to find their tree early this year to avoid shortage impacts,” ACTA executive director Jami Warner said in a press release.
Like so many other products, artificial Christmas trees could be harder to find in stores due to the global supply chain traffic jam. As for live trees, the ACTA says that fires in the Pacific Northwest have destroyed the crops of many would-be Christmas tree sellers.