For the last several months, the global supply chain has been portrayed as the Grinch that will steal Christmas. There is no doubt that there are serious supply chain hang ups that will affect the holiday season, but what will the average consumer actually be missing out on?
For starters, waiting until a week and a half to buy Christmas gifts is an unwise choice any year, but particularly this year. It’s true that popular toys will be difficult to find, and waiting until Christmas Eve to buy a turkey is not ideal, but for the most part, there will still be many gifts under the tree.
The real areas where consumers are feeling true tension are with small businesses and businesses that rely on shipping as their only form of product distribution.
For example, I have personally made two purchases from small businesses this holiday season. Both are small clothing companies in the Midwest that do everything from manufacturing to customer service to shipping in-house. I placed both orders the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I have not received either order yet. I am confident that I will receive them by Christmas, but yet, they are the only gifts I have not been able to wrap and check off my list.
The issue here is that small businesses are dueling with a double-edged sword. They want orders, and many rely on the holiday busy season as a key revenue driver; however, when the influx of orders does come, they have to work overtime to fulfill them. Even yet, they do not have the same shipping conveniences that larger shippers have. For example, many larger shippers that operate out of a warehouse have the benefit of a carrier coming to the warehouse and picking up the orders and shipping them directly from the facility. Small businesses, on the other hand, are likely packaging, labeling, and dropping off the orders themselves at an off-site UPS, FedEx, or USPS location. What seems like a simple extra step can cause huge inefficiencies.
The second area where consumers are feeling tension is with companies that are purely e-commerce based since there is no other way for consumers to access their products. Yes, major retailers like Walmart and Target have a robust e-commerce operation, but they also have in-store shopping and curbside pickup as a shipping work-around.
One of the most difficult e-commerce industries this time of year? Christmas cards. Companies like Minted that specialize in occasion cards receive millions of Christmas card orders in the span of 3-4 weeks, and over a billion holiday cards are sent each year.
Recently, a prominent social media influencer took to Instagram to express her concern over her Christmas card order. Originally the anticipated delivery date was December 8th...as of more recent news, December 15th. Say that she does receive her cards on the 15th, the last day to send mail via USPS First Class and have it delivered by Christmas is the 17th. This means she has about a one day turn around to address and send hundreds of Christmas cards in time.
Although in both cases (small businesses and exclusively e-commerce businesses), the items will be delivered by Christmas and all will be well, consumers will be holding their breath until just days before Christmas. So, what will consumers actually be missing out on this Christmas? Peace of mind.