If you’ve turned on the news in recent weeks, you’ve likely heard rumblings of the supply chain crisis. Perhaps you’ve even experienced it first-hand if you’ve tried to rent a car or buy a bike. Across the United States, we’re facing shortages (and projections for future shortages) of all manner of goods from canned beans to pet food to Legos. Even Ketchup, as The Wall Street Journal has reported, simply can’t catch up. Wondering how this will affect the holiday gift-giving season? Read on...
Why is the global supply chain shortage happening?
These issues with the global supply chain are happening for multiple different reasons, many of which layer on top of each other to exacerbate the problem. It’s “a veritable hydra of bottlenecks,” writes Derek Thompson in a piece for The Atlantic.
There’s plenty of nuance, but it’s fair to generalize the problem as “COVID catch-up.” Business closures around the world paired with “chaotic changes in consumption” have led to a cascading series of issues at factories (especially in Asia), shipping docks, rail yards, trucking companies, and stores the world over.
In addition to product shortages, there’s also a dearth of workers. Dock hands, truck drivers, even restaurant staff and grocery store personnel: All are in short supply. “Labor shortages are the reason that so many things just seem to be in the wrong place—the prime symptom of a supply-chain squeeze,” says Amy Davidson Sorkin in a story for The New Yorker.
On top of all that, China is regulating its electricity. In the lucky cases, Chinese factories are rationed to three to seven days of power at a time, reports National Public Radio. In others, power has been turned off for more than a week.
Just how big is the supply chain problem?
According to Verve Culture’s customs broker, it’s really big. He recently explained that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach typically have about 1 million containers enter each month; in comparison, the last three months have seen an average of 2 million containers. Shortages of trucking equipment and drivers are delaying the unloading process, leading container ships to have to wait, sometimes for weeks, to enter . When we spoke with him, our broker reported 60 container ships accounting for 600,000 individual containers, were simply waiting outside the ports. “The backlog is out of control, with no end in sight,” he says.
That backlog is sure to have big ramifications for shopping plans this holiday season.
What does all of this mean for all of us holiday shoppers?
Bottom line: If we’re ordering gifts online and we want to ensure those gifts arrive in time for Christmas morning, we need to start shopping early. We can’t wait for Black Friday to start making our lists and checking them twice. The time to shop is sooner rather than later.
The good news, however, is that Verve Culture’s business model—which works with small artisan entrepreneurs in Mexico, Thailand, and Morocco to promote the beauty of their craft—is not reliant on the Chinese factories that have been shut down or experiencing massive delays. Neither do we export through Chinese ports, which are facing incredible backlogs (almost three times worse than those in California). We’ve also planned ahead. Verve Culture currently has a warehouse full of inventory that’s ready and waiting for holiday orders.
Happily, our collections will experience less of an impact than other manufacturers. However, even Verve Culture will be affected by Stateside delays—and the problem will only get worse as we get closer to Santa’s big day. Now is the time to get your orders in and to breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve escaped the supply chain crisis.