MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — It isn’t even October yet, and experts are already warning of possible shortages and delays on Christmas toys due to COVID-related supply chain issues.
The pandemic has caused shortages of toilet paper, lumber, car parts and now retailers are having to deal with shortages of Christmas toys.
“So many of these things are made overseas, so it started with manufacturing shutdowns, then it went into the shipping and ocean freight issues, and now it’s backed up at the ports and containers are waiting to come in at the ports for weeks and weeks at a time,” said Brad Simpson, the owner Smith’s Variety Toys and Gifts in Mountain Brook.
Simpson says he works with over 200 vendors to supply his store. Some of his suppliers have items delayed for between 30 days and 90 days, or just unavailable.
“We’re telling a lot of our customers if you see something you like now go ahead and get it because we don’t know if it will be there in a couple of weeks or months. So we’re seeing a lot of customers beginning to buy for Christmas now,” said Simpson.
A shortage of Christmas toys could also cause a ripple effect on non-profits that rely on toy drive donations each year.
“So, it’s really important that we start these initiatives soon, and while September feels like its early shopping for the holidays, it’s actually the perfect time to do it before the stores get busy and items run out so you can start making those donations here at the Y and other nonprofits as well, I’m sure,” said Maria Underwood, the VP Development and Social Impact at the YWCA in Birmingham.
This holiday season, the YWCA plans to serve 125 families. Underwood says it’s important to meet their goals so they are able to gift every kid living in homeless shelters and transitional housing.
“It’s so important for the families that we serve to make sure that parents can get gifts to wrap and give on their own and give them to the parents first so that they can sneak them into the house and have them under the tree that Christmas morning,” said Underwood.
“We’re all hoping that the merchandise follows along and we’re able to keep it up for the customers,” said Simpson.
However, product shortages are not the only issues businesses are facing. Pricing on items is going up as well. Experts are predicting holiday retail sales to climb 7% to 9%.