With just six weeks to go before Christmas, holiday shoppers are being warned to get an early start as retailers grapple with major supply chain issues.
“For the retail sector, it is one of the biggest problems they’ve faced in years,” retail consultant David Ian Grey told Global News.
“Every category has been hit with this. The much bigger players, globally and even in Canada … tend to have the resources to mitigate against it a little bit better.
“At the other end, at the very small end – independent – if they’re sourcing products from Canada … it’s not quite so bad, except at scale a lot of Canadian manufacturers don’t make enough.”
Seasonal items, food products and appliances seem to be among the hardest-hit categories, he said.
At Vancouver’s Gourmet Warehouse, founder Caren McSherry said the store remains fully stocked, but based on the way shipments have been arriving, that likely won’t be the case closer to Dec. 25.
McSherry said some large orders have come with just half or even one-third of what was expected, with holiday items and international goods seeing the most problems.
“There are not going to be challenges if you are an early bird. That early bird is going to get the worm this year,” she said.
“If you see (the thing you’re looking for), no matter where you shop … get it, buy it, ask for a gift receipt. If it’s not right — at least you won’t be disappointed.”
At luxury children’s boutique Bonpoint in Richmond’s McArthur Glen outlet mall, Jessica Clayton-Carroll shared similar challenges.
With many of the shop’s top products coming from Europe, the contents of shipments have been unpredictable, she said.
“I think of (shipments as) a little bit like Christmas – you’re not really sure what you’re going to get in there,” Clayton-Carroll said.
“A lot of times we’ll order things and not everything is going to arrive in there. We’ll get some sizes, and we’ll get some things but the matching piece might not come in with it, so then we’ll have to wait for the next shipment.”
Items in the permanent collection, perfumes and skincare products have not been arriving as often, or have not been arriving in the quantities the shop is looking for, she said.
Grey said so far the supply chain issues are a bigger burden on retailers than on consumers, but said shoppers should be prepared to be flexible this year – they shouldn’t be married to particular makes and models, he said, or particular retailers.
The problem appears to be a chaotic shipping environment rather than an actual shortage of product, he said, meaning shoppers should check back frequently if they’re looking for something specific.
“The fact that it’s out of stock today doesn’t mean that it’s going to be out of stock in five days, so keep checking in,” Grey said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.