East Texas experts say start holiday shopping sooner rather than later

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) – This holiday shopping season could be like no other thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts are warning consumers that a global supply chain disruption from the pandemic could lead to a supply shortage, labor shortage, rising prices and delayed shipping.

Mike’s Hobbies and Toys in Longview is preparing for the season early.

“My vendors are telling me that I have to order earlier than normal for Christmas and I need to order larger quantities because they can’t fill the quantities that I have ordered,” owner Mike Sumrow said. His vendors want orders in by October 1, a month earlier from his normal holiday order deadline.

Experts say freight cost increases, freight delays, a US truck driver shortage, and labor and retail shortage, all lead to the delay in shipping and increases in prices.

“From 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, consumer freight costs, the container costs, rose from 30-65 percent due to demand and supply chain issues,” UT Tyler Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Kerri Camp said. “Whenever we see a rise in prices in the supply chain, those ultimately get passed on to the consumer.”

“Frankly, you add to that the fact that many retailers are having challenges being fully staffed themselves, you’re looking at the potential for many items, especially those items that are manufactured outside the US, to have very poor availability this Christmas season,” LeTourneau University Calvin Howe Professor of Finance Bob Roller said.

“The box that you’re unwrapping on Christmas morning again had a lot of different pieces, it came from all over the world into it, and it can’t get there if one of those is missing,” LeTourneau University Associate Professor of Political Science John Barrett said.

Roller said shoppers can expect shipping to take anywhere from two weeks to two months and between a 10-20{3132c872e6c78dc13c400a594a399f7f701f7fca090fe22c84668d12b33a9deb} increase in holiday decorations and gift prices this year.

Their advice?

“Realize there are certain things that are not going to be available and so the practical solution is to choose from what is available,” Roller said.

“The labor shortages are still a problem that we are facing and so people be patient when you’re shopping in the holiday seasons I think there is going to be some longer wait times,” Camp said.

“I would say start shopping now,” Barrett said. “You’re not going to be able to do overnight delivery on Christmas Eve this year.”

“Shop early, and I’ll try my best to take care of you,” Sumrow said.

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