Crisis for Christmas

Image Credit: Unsplash License: John Cameron

The issues with the increase in demand, the ever depleting supply, and why Christmas shopping shouldn't be left to the last minute.

Following the supply challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, the supply and demand chain, which was once a well-oiled machine, is struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. As a result, stores are empty. Some even shut down because they couldn’t survive through the gruelling lockdowns. So, this pandemic has gone from the early days of panic buying to the current situation where we face the possibility of a gift-less Christmas for many.

There is great debate on what the outcome of Christmas will look like; with children wanting all of the hot new toys and gadgets advertised, there is a scramble. Unfortunately, most stores face a supply shortage which results in little to no stock for the holidays.

Parents are panicking, rushing and stressing to buy as much as possible in preparation for Christmas

This leads to even more shortages, as people end up buying in bulk, especially in supermarkets. Some of the stores that will be hit by the supply shortage grinch include; IKEA, Tesco, Primark and Symths Toys. Even though Christmas is the busiest for all of Santa’s helpers, the number of toys they can produce in time for Christmas is shortening. With fewer elves being able to help Santa with deliveries and fewer reindeer available for transportation, much like the truck shortages faced in Britain, there is a lack of Christmas presents available to be put under the tree.  

Last year, the Irish Independent estimated that Irish consumers spent roughly €160,000 a minute during Christmas of 2020 due to the pandemic. As many tried to use Christmas presents as a way to make the world seem normal. An average of €52 Million a day was spent until December 24, with the greater part of shopping in the last three weekends leading up to Christmas. Although the trend always predicted an increase in spending on the week before Christmas. It has been advised that everyone should have their wish lists sent in by Mid-November to ensure Santa can get the gift under the tree.

All of the factors that lead to a blissful and present filled Christmas are facing issues. These include issues with; lorry drivers and trucks, electricity shortages in China, high gas prices in Europe, and the price of shipping containers coming from China increasing. According to Drewry Supply Chain Advisors, there has been an annual increase of 522% of the cost of 40ft shipping containers. Those of which travelled from Shanghai – where most of the Christmas products, such as decorations and toys, arrive from – to Rotterdam, where most shipments are sent to Ireland. Leading to the current cost of a 40ft shipping container being $ 13,798 USD. The increased price of shipping containers is primarily due to the congested ports with increasing waiting times. In addition, Danish shipping companies are re-routing shipments sent to the UK due to a shortage of lorry drivers. As the UK suffers through shortages, so does Ireland. According to the Central Statistics Office, the UK is the number 1 importer to Ireland, with 22% of all imports into Irish ports being British freights.

The supply chain purely exists to satisfy the demand. But with the demand hitting the roof internationally and with the easing of lockdowns, consumer spending increasing, global manufactures and global transport systems are struggling to keep up. Consumer demand is not always predictable, although the preparations for Christmas surges are in spring, oftentimes, stores are unable to predict when items will sell out. Thus, now with the current predicament of COVID-19, items are selling out faster than anticipated, and stores are unable to replenish their stock fast enough. By the time some products sell out, there may not be enough time to get them back into stock.

There will be products selling out this year, some earlier than usual, with them being most likely suck out of stock. This year, we can all ensure that the Grinch of the supply chain cannot affect a happy Christmas. When possible, order in advance and buy the essential gifts early – especially get those gifts for parents and partners early, you’ll never hear the end of it if you don’t – don’t rely on next day delivery or postponing the Christmas shopping. Pre-ordering Christmas dinner essentials, like turkeys, would greatly help the people that are working around the clock to get the supply chain back in order. By pre-ordering, pre-booking and buying essential items early, it can help those in manufacturing and logistics get back on track to satisfy the ever-growing increase in demand. Santa needs more than milk and cookies to keep up with all the orders.

Even though items may be unavailable, there may be alternatives or similar items – look for them. You can also shop local, go to the Dublin Castle Christmas Market or the Mistletown Christmas Festival. By shopping locally, you help boost the economy and support local businesses that are currently suffering. Take advantage of gifts that don’t have to travel the world to get to you. Maybe give someone a night in a hotel or a gift card for a pub or restaurant they wanted to try out; by doing this, you are supporting local business, and you don’t have to panic about if a gift is in stock.

Online shopping will be the best way to get gifts this year, you’d be more likely to get what you’re looking for

Taking the questions of the supply chain to the students of UCD, there was a distinct reliance; “online shopping will be the best way to get gifts this year, you’d be more likely to get what you’re looking for.” Said one of the students being interviewed. Another student stated, “I’ve got all of my gifts ahead of Christmas because of the shortages.” Finally, the last student explains the struggle that his family faces, due to the current predicament of the supply chain blockage, “my dad is annoyed about the supply issues, as he works in a business that relies on imports from Great Britain.”   Looking at what the students have said, it is clear that Christmas is at the forefront of their minds, and that they are greatly affected by the shortages in stores across Ireland.  

This year, instead of a mad dash on Christmas Eve to buy presents for loved ones, and friends, plan ahead.  It is recommended by business owners and experts to buy gifts now, take advice from the annoyingly early Christmas adverts and go shopping now.