An Adobe Analytics study released Tuesday, Nov. 9, revealed that online shoppers saw over two billion out-of-stock messages in October as they started their holiday shopping early this year. That’s three times more than in October 2019 as the supply chain crisis threatens to ruin Christmas.
Electronic products have the highest out-of-stock levels, followed by jewelry, apparel, home and garden and pet products.
Adobe reported that consumers started shopping ahead of time this year as they’ve been enticed by earlier deals, “but as e-commerce demand picks up, shoppers are feeling the impact of ongoing supply chain constraint.”
In October, some $72.4 billion was spent on U.S. retail sites – an eight percent growth from a year ago. In the first 10 months of the year, consumers spent $680 billion online – a nine percent increase in the same timeframe last year, and 57 percent higher than the same period in 2019.
Electronic products, in particular, have been hit by a global chip shortage that already cost Apple over $6 billion as it struggles with production. Nintendo also said that it can’t fulfill holiday demand for its gaming consoles for the same reason.
Retailers and logistics experts urged people to start shopping early this year to ensure they get their holiday shopping done.
“Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season. For those who have not yet started their holiday shopping, they will need to be prepared to be flexible,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.
How supply chain issues are affecting holiday shopping
As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) took its toll on the retail industry, other issues such as worker shortages and transportation delays came with it. These now affect how quickly shoppers are able to get a range of products.
“We’re all at home, ordering stuff on Amazon, and that caused a huge spike in demand for products, particularly coming from China,” said Rosemary Coates, a global trade expert and president of Blue Silk Consulting.
There are also issues of potential factory shutdowns in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, which all had to deal with labor shortages related to the pandemic. There are also not enough truck drivers who can pick up the goods once they’re unloaded at docks, and warehouses are struggling to hire workers.
FrieightWaves CEO Craig Fuller said: “When the world’s manufacturers came back online, there was a surge in products that were ordered and just a finite amount of capacity of ships, of trucks, of warehouses, and the infrastructure that exists can’t handle the volume.” (Related: SUPPLY CHAIN PAIN: Shoppers see record number of out-of-stock messages as they scan retail websites.)
Retail executives expressed their concern about inventory shortages, which is why some took measures to try to speed up the supply process. For instance, Target, Costco, Walmart and Home Depot chartered their own container ship, which allows the company to have control over its shipping process and avoid delays caused by additional stops at backed-up ports. They also kicked off early sales to help people get a head start on their shopping.
However, customers are still feeling the effects of the supply chain issues as nearly half of the early shoppers already encountered issues with back-orders, delays or out of stocks. Still, the demand isn’t slowing down and sales are still expected to grow by seven percent this year.
With popular items being hard to find for the holidays, there are also plenty of fake “flash sales” and other deals on social media that are taking advantage of the holiday rush.
The Better Business Bureau warned consumers that they need to be aware of potential scams. For instance, some scammers could “suddenly” have the toy that’s out of stock everywhere else. Even their websites would likely look very professional, but consumers could be at risk of receiving counterfeits or nothing at all.
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