Shipping Delays for the Holidays?

Exercise Patience to Defeat Supply-Chain Issues 

We get it. It’s that time of year, and everyone has a gift list that’s three miles long.

Families are coming back together for the first time and people are excited to see each other. After a year of privation for many, the holidays are an opportunity to lavish affection and gifts upon loved ones. 

What many don’t understand, however, is that things aren’t quite back to normal…at least not just yet. 

Supply Won’t Be Fixed So Quickly

Supply chains are obviously a big talking point this holiday season, and for good reason. Factories are still not operating with 100% staff, given the veracity and adaptability of the COVID-19 virus. Several countries are maintaining social distancing rules that limit the amount of available personnel for several industries. Additionally, shortages have been exacerbated by increased shipping delays and the theft of hundreds of shipping containers tied up in foreign ports. 

We empathize with consumers who are frustrated by these unfortunate events. At the same time, we must stress that the situation is unprecedented.

Many economists agree that the damage to the supply-chain was another direct result of the pandemic; something no one could have predicted. While there seems to be progress in addressing the resulting delays, it’ll take months for supply chains to adapt to the “new normal.”

How Should Consumers Respond?

Retailers, suppliers, and shipping agencies are urging consumers to be aware of the continued problem. They request that buyers exercise patience when making purchases and ordering goods online.

It’s true that Black Friday weekend saw a slight dip in sales according to Adobe. However, sales are still expected to top last season’s numbers. Due to the uptick in supply-chain issues, many consumers opted to do their holiday shopping early in an effort to get ahead of the crisis. That’s a wise move, but there are still contributing factors that may yet cause further problems for supply.

Post-holiday returns, for example, could aggravate existing supply-chain issues by clogging up mail and shipping services. This will place added burden on supplier logistics and fulfillment. In a system that has been teetering on the brink of collapse all year, an influx of returns, disputes, and chargebacks could push it over the edge.

Keep Calm and Carry On 

We understand that our society has become accustomed to ‘on-demand’ goods and services. The ease of consumer purchasing power is part of what makes eCommerce so great. In these uncertain times, however, it is important to recognize that our lives are still being affected by the pandemic and may be for a while to come. 

We encourage you to continue shopping online. After all, it helps makes our economy stronger and more resilient. Be aware, though, that goods may not always be available for purchase. They may also arrive outside of traditional shipping times, and returns may take longer to process. Leaping into disputes based on these shipping delays is a bad idea, as a spike in chargebacks will lead to even more delays. 

The best response to these issues is to be as patient and realistic as possible. You must understand these purchasing and shipping delays before you buy. 

When Will the Supply-Chain Go Back to Normal?

In short, no one knows. Top economists are scratching their heads at the situation, as the pandemic’s aftereffects continue to reverberate throughout society. Some argue that increased legislation may help to alleviate the economic stressors causing record supply and shipping delays. 

In an interview for The Hill, Allianz Chief Economic Advisor Mohamed El-Erian warned that supply chain issues could lead to lower demand and ultimately further inflation woes. “I don’t think we have an issue with demand. I think incomes are strong. Retail sales are strong. Companies have lots of money. The problem is the supply side,” he said. “And unless we fix the supply side, it will contaminate the demand side. So that’s why it’s really important to focus on the two big issues that we have: supply disruptions and inflation.” 

When asked how the trouble might be avoided in future, El-Erian continued, “Inflation is not transitory and it’s really important for the Fed to realize this because the worst thing that can happen is that in addition to the supply disruptions, we can’t do anything about, in addition to the labor shortages, they destabilize our expectations and we change behavior even faster.”