holiday shopping

Supply Chain Concerns Increase As Holidays Approach

NBC 7 Responds looked at what people can expect while shopping for the holidays

NBC Universal, Inc.

The holidays are a busy time for stores, with people shopping for food, gifts and clothing, but those products that use to arrive in weeks can now take months to ship.

"What used to take four weeks to go from the coast of China to the U.S. is now taking 8 to 12 weeks," said Miro Copic, a business professor at San Diego State University.

Copic said things are different than when the pandemic began.

"It's a little overblown that store shelves would be empty," Copic said, "but when you go, you're not going to find the selection that you want."

The reason for that: There are two major shipments for products during this time of year. The first comes through in July and August, while the second usually arrives early to mid-October. Many ships in that second batch, however, are still waiting to leave port or be unloaded, Copic said.

"This means consumers are not, at least right now, going to have the breadth of choice that they're familiar with during the holidays," Copic said.

That also means the holiday discounts might be smaller. Copic said in recent years some products were marked down as much as 50% for holiday shoppers.

"These discounts are going to be under 20-25%," Copic said. "I think most consumers, especially Gen Z and Millennials, this is the first time they've seen this."

For his part, Copic said It's the first time he's seen the situation like this since the 1990s.

Another reason for the smaller selection of products: increasing transportation costs. Copic said some manufacturers are waiting to import or ship goods until the prices go down.

"The transportation costs for most manufacturers has increased sixfold," Copic said.

If you're looking to do some holiday shopping, Copic said, your habits might have to change.

"If you wait, there's not going to be a greater discount," Copic said. "Those late shoppers, those 10-12% of shoppers who wait till the week before Christmas to buy, you may just not have things to buy."

This doesn't mean you need to go store to store looking for products, but, Copic said, keep in mind that as the holidays get closer, the selection of products will quickly shrink.

"You can shop from the comfort of your home," Copic said, "but if you're doing your research and you find something, buy now."

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