December is just around the corner, and retailers are gearing up for what is traditionally one of their best months. This year, however, preparing for the holiday shopping rush looks a little different. Coming out of the pandemic, people are ready to spend again. But retailers are struggling to stock their shelves to keep up with demand. Here’s why.
Are shops truly experiencing a shortage?
With the economy recovering, retailers are ready to recoup some of their lost income. But empty shelves have been an issue around the UK. Simply put, demand is well on its way to recovery. The supply chain, however, is well behind and cannot keep up.
Brexit is partly to blame for the supply shortage. With customs adding value-added tax to anything arriving from across the border, many small companies are no longer selling their products to the UK.
Also, sectors depending heavily on EU workers – including food processing and product delivery – are feeling the pinch as visa issues now mean workers are staying away. The result? Retailers aren’t getting the products they need and their shelves aren’t getting restocked as quickly as needed.
Should we expect a bare Christmas?
Retailers are warning that Christmas might look a little different this year as Brits begin stockpiling essentials for the holidays. Supermarkets are feeling the pinch already, with empty shelves as Britain’s supply chains struggle to keep up.
Brits with large freezers and storing capacity are already stockpiling Christmas food, but retailers fear that other supplies might be next on the list because of the HGV driver shortage.
According to the reports, beer, fizzy drinks, electronic goods and even toys could be in short supply – and more expensive – as Christmas gets closer. This could lead to people going back to a popular pandemic option: online shopping.
While an easier way to get products home faster and more effectively, online shopping from larger chains like Amazon might end up hurting smaller local businesses who are likely to depend on the Christmas rush to stay afloat after a difficult year.
How can you deal with the shortage?
Retailers might not be able to speed up shelf re-stocking until supply chain issues are resolved. And this could take until well into 2022, which means Christmas might be tight for many. To make sure you don’t end up missing out on the celebrations, here are some tips to help you prepare in advance:
- Don’t wait until December to shop for Christmas. Make a list of gifts and foods you need and start shopping now. For bigger discounts, you might want to wait for Black Friday, which falls on 26 November this year. But keep in mind the competition for items and discounts will be fiercer by then.
- Look for alternative presents. Rather than products, consider giving experiences. That could be tickets to the zoo or the theatre, gift certificates to local restaurants, or a visit to the spa. This will mean not having to shop the shelves for gifts that are hard to find.
- Don’t be afraid to plan a different Christmas. You won’t have to worry about finding a turkey for Christmas dinner if you plan a Mediterranean-style meal or simply go for different roasted meats.
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