RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Supply chain disruptions have experts warning about the impact it can have on holiday shopping this season.
From COVID outbreaks at international factories, trucking and staffing shortages in the U.S., and most visibly this week, bottlenecks at some key U.S. ports, there’s a growing concern many of the gifts families plan to buy this holiday season will either not be available or will not arrive by Christmas.
“There’s bottlenecks all along the chain,” said Rob Handfield, professor and supply chain expert at North Carolina State University.
“The demand for goods has gone up,” Handfield said. “The capacity of the ports to handle it has remained the same. And we’ve also had additional labor shortages.”
Handfield anticipates the problem will lead to products simply not being available as the holiday shopping season ramps up. In some cases, he said shipping delays will likely lead to customers not receiving gifts purchased online until early 2022.
“If you’re lucky, you might get it in January, but you might get it in February, March, or even April, for that matter,” he said.
While the problem – and the impact – is being felt at the national and global level, it’s also having a profound impact on small businesses in the Triangle.
Nick Nicholson, owner of Raleigh hobby shop Nick’s Trains, said he’s noticed certain products he sells have become harder to get ahold of.
“A lot of items that used to be available routinely are not as available now, and some items, you just about can’t get,” Nicholson said.
He showed CBS17’s Sean Cudahy some of the aisles in his store, where unavailable products have left behind some empty spaces.
“In 26 years, this is the worst supply year we’ve seen,” Nicholson said, pointing out, he tells clients to order products right away if they see something they want.
Similarly, Handfield said shopping early may be one option.