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Supply chain Issues under scrutiny

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Will supply chain constraints be the Grinch that steals Christmas this year, and maybe Thanksgiving too?

A recent survey from the NPD Group found that more than 40% of U.S. consumers said they had already purchased their holiday gifts by October. Among those early holiday shoppers, 42% said they started shopping early because they feared seeing empty shelves once the holiday shopping season gets under way.

Supply chain issues are also seen by many economists as the reason for rising prices.

A recent article in The New York Times had this headline: “This Year’s Thanksgiving Feast Will Wallop the Wallet.” The article begins with the sentence “Thanksgiving 2021 could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday.”

So will product shortages and inflation ruin the holidays for retailers? Maybe not.

That NPD Group poll found just as many consumers said they made early purchases because they like to get their shopping done before the holidays get too hectic. And a new report from FMI finds that despite worries about the cost and availability of their favorite holiday foods, most shoppers said they plan to celebrate the holidays much the same as they did before the pandemic, albeit while shopping early and observing social distancing measures when getting together with friends and family.

“Consumers remain aware of pandemic impacts on the supply chain, but most are confident that with some planning they will find their favorite foods at reasonable prices and share traditional menu with loved ones this holiday season,” FMI president and chief executive officer Leslie Sarasin said.

The impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy will be a key factor in retail sales during the 2021 holiday season, but the National Retail Federation is nonetheless confident in its forecast for record growth, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“There are several factors coming together to have a major impact on the holiday outlook, but household fundamentals are a bright spot in the uncertain present,” Kleinhenz said. “Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last months of the year and are spending because they can.”


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