Military exchanges, fight against supply chain problems, urge customers not to wait for Christmas shopping



Like businesses across the country, military exchanges are grappling with COVID-related supply chain issues and soaring prices.

The problems affect everything from the manufacturing process to the entire shipping chain.

“We continue to fight for our ‘unfair share’ of inventory to ensure constant availability of goods to service members and their families around the world,” said Chris Ward, spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Products affected include electronics, athletic shoes, men’s and women’s clothing, home appliances, furniture and more, he said.

Commodity shortages particularly affect certain products, such as microchips, aluminum, glass and textiles, said Courtney Williams, spokeswoman for the Navy Exchange Service Command. Brands affected include Dyson, Whirlpool, Samsung, Charbroil and a number of beverage companies, she said.

Among other issues are shipping container shortages, COVID-related factory closures, persistent port congestion, capacity restrictions on port containers, driver availability and limited truck and rail capacities, Ward said. These transportation problems have also plagued the moving industry and affected the moves of military families.

These are not short-term problems. Nobody knows when product shortages will wear off, Williams said, “but in the shipping space, hopes are some relief will come by the end of 2022.”

The exchanges and commissioners compete with other retailers outside the gates for products, claiming the industry should give military shops some preferential treatment and give the military community an “unfair share” of inventory – given the nature of the military lifestyle and the victims of service members and theirs Families make.

Many vendors have prioritized military resale over other outlets, especially for certain COVID-related products, Williams said.

Labor, material and transportation costs have skyrocketed. Williams said NEXCOM was trying to moderate the increases to ensure they can continue to offer savings to their customers.

Additionally, the Joint Buying Alliance, formed in 2019, has helped military reselling organizations save customers more than $ 75 million, Williams said.

The advice of exchange officers? “Don’t wait to buy. If you see it, buy it! ”Said Williams.

NEXCOM officials decided to postpone the start of their “We Believe” Christmas shopping campaign to October 4 to give customers a head start, she said.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials started their Christmas shopping in early September and offered “Black Friday prices” through November 24, both in-store and online, on electronics, clothing, jewelry, sporting goods and more. New offers and specials are introduced every Friday.

Many holiday shipments are either on their way to Navy Exchange stores or just arriving, Williams said. However, stores may not have been able to get the full quantity they originally ordered. And she said, “NEXCOM is experiencing some product delays that will result in stock shortages or bottlenecks during the holiday season.”

Aside from items planned for their Navy Blue Weekend sales events, they display all goods on the sales floor. As the weeks go by, customers are less likely to find what they are looking for on their vacation purchase. “But NEXCOM buyers are still looking for and buying new products for the holiday season,” she said. “So there will be products on our shelves, just maybe not the gift that a customer originally wanted to buy.”

Navy Exchanges and AAFES Stores have also started offering their toll-free layaways this holiday season.

Most of the current product and labor shortages are due to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections in civil manufacturing facilities, which has resulted in temporary shutdowns as well as changes in production lines, Williams said. This can lead to longer manufacturing times and some may need to prioritize or relocate resources to make only certain products.

Shortages of raw materials and packaging also affect the products themselves. “If just one element or ingredient that is needed to make an item is not available, it has a huge impact,” said Williams.

All authorized swap buyers, regardless of the service industry, can shop in all swap transactions for the services in brick-and-mortar stores as well as online.

All Department of Veterans Affairs disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, ex-prisoners of war, and primary veteran carers affiliated with the service are eligible to shop at base military exchanges. All veterans are eligible to shop on the online exchanges –;, and

The military exchange in the USA is now also open to all civilians of the DoD and the Coast Guard.

Karen has been reporting on military families, quality of life, and consumer issues for the Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida, and Athens, Georgia.



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