Brace yourself: It's going to be hard to find everything — not just your favorite holiday foods and hot toys and gifts but also basic staples like coffee and footwear — because of supply chain problems that will likely persist at least through next spring, Jennifer reports.
Why it matters: Scarce resources will likely lead to more scuffles among shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores, fewer deals for Black Friday and online price wars that could threaten the livelihood of already-suffering retailers.
Driving the news: Stores of all sizes and specialties are already trying to hoard things in warehouses — from turkeys, stuffing and cranberry sauce to Halloween decorations, video game consoles and those chic fleecy sweaters that everyone seems to want.
Record numbers of cargo ships are bobbing off key ports like Long Beach and Los Angeles in California waiting to be unloaded, due to pandemic restrictions, labor shortages and record-high prices for Chinese shipping containers. And big-box retailers are taking matters into their own hands.
- Walmart is chartering its own vessels so it won't be at the mercy of overstrapped vendors — and some of those charters are deliberately small enough to be able to unload at secondary ports where there aren't such big backups.
- Home Depot "has reserved its own ship, bought merchandise on the spot market and flown in power tools as it copes with supply chain headaches," per CNBC. President and COO Ted Decker told CNBC it marked "the first time that the company has taken such a step."
- Lululemon is adding extra air shipments to try to sidestep overburdened ports.
State of play: MGA Entertainment and Basic Fun, the huge toy distributors behind LOL Surprise! dolls, Little Tikes, Bratz dolls, Tonka trucks, Fisher-Price toys, K'nex and the like, say that kid-pleasers like these will be scarcer and more expensive, as CNN reported.
- "There is going to be a major shortage of toy products this year," MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian told CNN Business.
- "Everyone is crossing their fingers that this works itself out by spring of 2022," but there are no guarantees, says Brittain Ladd, chief supply chain and marketing officer of Kuecker Pulse Integration (KPI), which helps companies like Amazon, CVS and Walgreens automate supply chains and fulfillment centers.
The bottom line: "What I hope consumers have already started to do is shop," Ladd tells Axios.
- "I don't think they should put their hopes into the big toy or the big fashion item that could arrive. The attitude should be, 'Let's not be as picky as maybe we've been in the past few years. Let's be happy with what we can find."
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