Supply chain crisis affects this holiday season

Supply chain crisis affects this holiday season

By Farrah Fasse and Gabby Miller

When shopping online, consumers have seen out-of-stock messages on items go up 250 percent in Oct. 2021 compared to Jan. 2020, according to data from Adobe Analytics. As a result of a set of complex issues, including a labor shortage, the lasting effects of COVID-19 and low inventory, the United States is feeling the impacts of a crippling supply chain crisis. 

As both online and in-store shopping ramp up during the holiday season, these issues are only expected to be exacerbated by higher demands. Central Transport dispatch supervisor Michael Scarcelli says that he foresees late deliveries being the main issue for holiday shoppers this year.

Delays will be the #1 problem this upcoming holiday season.

— Michael Scarcelli, Central Transport Dispatch Supervisor

“Delays will be the #1 problem this upcoming holiday season,” Scarcelli said. “Not only will most packages not make it to (their) destination on time, but most stores won’t even have products to be able to sell to people in-person.” 

Although the US added over 500,000 jobs in October, the labor force participation rate is still low, hovering slightly above 80 percent. “Help Wanted” signs are still found in the windows of nearly every local and corporate business alike.

Economics teacher Brian Degnore says that the supply chain issues involve overseas goods not being able to reach the United States, and believes they are caused by higher demands and a lack of labor to fill positions throughout the supply chain. 

“There are not enough people to fill these jobs in order to get those goods to the market,” Degnore said. “So, jobs anywhere from truck drivers to …  the people who take the goods off the ships, there are just not enough people to do the jobs.” 

Scarcelli agrees that worker shortages are a contributing cause for the broken supply chain, and that a lack of truck drivers is one of the biggest impacts.

“Truck drivers are vital to the supply chain across the world, they are the ones who get products from point A to point B,” Scarcelli said. “They are the ones on the front lines that get everyone their goods.”

Prior to holiday gift shopping, senior Bella Stephanoff has experienced several shipping delays. She completes most of her shopping online, and the majority of her purchases have been delayed. Even some of her most significant purchases have barely made it in time. She ordered from a well known homecoming dress store, Lucy in the Sky, similar to other students.

“Even with express shipping, it wouldn’t come in,” Stephanoff said. “My best friend ordered from there a month in advance of her homecoming, supposed to come in two weeks before, and the package just never shipped the week of [homecoming], so she had to get a refund.” 

As she is all too familiar with shipping delays, Stephanoff plans on completing her online holiday purchases early. 

Scarcelli concurs with Stephanoff, and says that consumers will also experience a lower selection of goods in addition to the late deliveries for holiday shopping. 

“If I can offer any advice, it would be to get out and buy your Christmas gifts ASAP so you’re not dealing with the stress of not being able to buy someone the gifts that they want,” Scarcelli said.

Even as shoppers combat higher prices, product shortages and shipping delays, Degnore believes there may be a silver lining as consumers change the way they buy holiday gifts. 

“Instead of looking for goods off Amazon, people will actually turn to the Mom and Pop stores that are in their local communities,” Degnore said.