TORONTO – Experts are advising Canadians to plan ahead and start their holiday shopping early if they don’t want to be disappointed amid global supply chain issues and shortages affecting various regions.
David Soberman, professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, told Granthshala.ca that the COVID-19 outbreak continues to shake factories, shutting down production for a week, with a ripple effect on other sectors like retail. Market.
“The thing is, the world was closed for about a year and a half because of the pandemic,” Soberman said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
He explained that the pandemic has reduced the number of people working in ports and factories, and since then companies are finding it difficult to resume full operations.
“That’s not only true in North America, but you know in Asia where many of our products come from,” Soberman said.
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Further, he said the pandemic has created demand for some products that were not there earlier. Soberman says that if someone is planning to gift board games, furniture, books, bikes, toys, video games or equipment for the holidays, they should start buying those products now.
“People really want to buy something, but when there’s a lot of demand and there isn’t capacity, you’re going to end up with shortages and they’re very sporadic across categories and geographies,” Soberman said.
However, he added that these reductions would affect Canadians “on a person-to-person basis”. He added that those who are not interested in these products will not be affected.
Soberman said, “People may have something specific they want to buy, and that may be something where there is a shortage. So consumers will learn to be disappointed more often than they are usually disappointed.”
Retailers are grappling with supply chain challenges and labor shortages, but they are working to best prepare for the holiday shopping season, says Michelle Vasilishen, national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). .
“As an industry we are still not black enough for pre-pandemic ‘normality,’” Vasilishen said in an email to Granthshala.ca on Wednesday. “There are a lot of products on shelves across Canada, however, this may not always be the product or brand that consumers are looking for.”
Vasilishen said that “challenges are expected” for some popular items, such as electronics, due to ongoing chip shortages.
However, she said that some large retailers have prepared for it and have “record amounts of inventory on hand” that will help them “weather the storm”.
Similar to the 2020 holiday season, Vasilishen said shoppers should start buying gifts regardless of in-store or online purchases.
“It won’t be as bad as last year, but it’s best not to wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping,” she said.
Soberman said the uncertainty can create stress for consumers and that if they aren’t buying a gift right now, he added that they should at least start “doing their homework” and finding out if they want to buy a popular product. are planning for a stock that could run out if they wait too long.
Soberman explained, “The thing about these shortages is that you can’t necessarily tell which products are out of stock or unavailable or being backordered… try buying them.”
“Purchasing in advance can pay off because you’ll know in advance what you can get and when you can get it,” he said.
Marty Weintraub, a partner and national retail practice leader at Deloitte Canada, said he does not expect supply chain issues to affect all retailers, however, and consumers should expect to pay more for the products they want. .
Weintraub told Granthshala.ca in a telephone interview on Wednesday that a rise in shipping container costs due to increased demand for consumer goods, combined with disruptions caused by COVID-19, could push prices up for most goods.
He explained that larger businesses would be able to bear these costs due to higher margins, but those that could not would have to increase the prices of their products.
Weintraub said retailers are expecting more “vengeance shopping” this holiday season, with increased spending by consumers to make up for lost time. He said some retailers had increased their supplies months ago to deal with this.
“A lot of retailers have increased their orders and they bought earlier and bought higher quantities because of that behavior … because they’re afraid of running out of stock,” Weintraub said.
However, Weintraub noted that forecasters tend to predict popular goods and trends a year or more in advance, and products that businesses have already stocked may no longer be of interest to consumers.
Despite this, Weintraub said Canadians have become “much more understanding” about product shortages and shipping delays amid the pandemic.
“We’re a little more nostalgic, I would like to think, and if there isn’t a product we’ll look for something similar and we’ll be a little more okay with that,” he said.