Christmas is rapidly approaching, which means that many of us will soon be scrambling to find last-minute gifts for friends and loved ones. In years past, procrastinators have mostly been able to get away with delaying their holiday shopping. However, 2020 is no ordinary year. For a multitude of reasons, we recommended that your take care of your Christmas shopping (especially online orders) as soon as possible. Here’s why 

Demand overload 

The coronavirus has dealt critical blows to many industries this year. However, the opposite has been true for e-commerce. Forecasts are showing roughly a 30% increase in e-commerce for the holiday season (November – January)This isn’t just speculation, however. On Cyber Monday, Americans spent $10.8 billion online, setting the all-time record for e-commerce spending in one day. Clearly, many shoppers would prefer to purchase presents online than to deal with social distancing and mask requirements at brick-and-mortar establishments.

Because of this shift in shopping habits, parcel delivery companies like FedEx and UPS are expected to be bogged down with an overwhelming volume of packages in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Though these companies are no stranger to peak season volumes, this year’s holiday demand will certainly push the limits. After all, there isn’t an infinite supply of trucks and warehouse space. Even with seasonal workers and increased efforts, shipments will likely fall behind the closer we get to the end of the month. 

Inventory Shortages 

In March and April, international shipping practically hit a standstill and imports temporarily ceased. The freight industry has since regrouped and designated cargo-dedicated aircraft so as to resume the movement of freight. However, retailers are still struggling to keep the shelves stocked with some items. 

One may have concluded that people would have tightened their purse-strings due to the job insecurity that came along with COVID-19. However, as the summer months progressed it became apparent that consumer demand for goods was on the rise. Essentially, in the absence of travelling and leisure activities, consumers redirected their funds to the goods market. As a result, demand for goods has been on the rise while the inventory-to-sales ratio has reached notable lows. 

Still, we are seeing the trend of thin inventory among retailers, both online and in-store. With every passing day, the chances of your product-of-choice going out of stock increases. If there’s something you know you want to buy as a gift, there’s no time better than the present!  

Price Spikes 

To a similar tune, waning inventories might result in price spikes. As inventory becomes more scarce and demand increases, sellers will gain the upper hand. In this scenario, you either pay a premium or you go home empty handed. 

If this information is making you nervous, relax! There’s still time to make sure that you have gifts under the tree on the 25th. FreightWaves has provided this helpful infographic, which summarizes the shipping deadlines for all the major delivery services. Keep in mind that these dates are tentative, and waiting to ship until the last opportunity is like playing with fire. Also note that the closer we get to December 25th, the more you can expect to pay for shipping. 

Other than buying your gifts ASAP, what kind of practical steps can you take to make sure that your gift-giving game is on point this year? Here’s our list of outside-the-box Christmas gift ideas that shouldn’t be hindered by a clogged supply chain. 

  • Give Memories – A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a meaningful photo in a nice frame is all it takes to bring joy to a recipient. 
  • Get Crafty – try out your artistic side and create something unique and heartfelt. Whether you’re apt for painting, woodworking, or sewing, try to create something that your recipient will appreciate and get good use out of. 
  • Go Digital – Is your recipient trying to learn a particular computer skill? Perhaps you can gift them a license to a software that would benefit them. Or, you could purchase them access to an online course that would help. For gamers, credit to their gaming account (PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, etc.) would certainly put a smile on their face. 

At Easley, we offer transportation and storage solutions to businesses of all shapes and sizes. And, our team is always looking ahead so that we’re not blindsided when chaotic times like this strikeTo see how we can serve your specific supply chain needs, contact us or get a quote. 

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