The Retail Council of Canada strongly recommends that consumers start their Christmas shopping early this year.
“We definitely encourage people to shop early if they are looking for the specific products, models and brands they are looking for,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada.
The advice is the result of COVID-19 related challenges in the supply chain.
“Right now there are some problems,” Wasylyshen told Global News. “It really is a perfect storm.”
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The challenges have been attributed to cargo ship residue and pandemic shortages of manpower and materials, many of which are overseas.
“We have seen in China and Vietnam that they have had situations where they actually closed their port completely to deal with COVID outbreaks,” Wasylyshen said.
“So they closed their ports for a week or two straight, and that had a massive global impact.”
Freight and shipping costs have also contributed to the difficult situation, according to Wasylyshen.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, items that could be in short supply during the two biggest shopping months of the year, November and December, include toys, clothing, and seasonal accessories, as well as high-selling items such as electronics and furniture and appliances.
“I don’t want to ring alarm bells,” said Wasylyshen. “There are sure to be supplies out there.
“There are products on shelves, but due to the challenges in the supply chain right now, it may not be the exact product or brand someone is looking for. So if you leave it until the last minute, you may have to replace another color, model, make, or postpone purchase altogether. “
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At the Unhinged Gift and Lifestyle Boutique in Kelowna, while most of the products are sourced from Canada, owner Jenn Larson said shipping even within the country has proven to be a challenge
“I can usually get products from some suppliers in a week or two, but now I sometimes see a six-week shipping time,” she told Global News. “So if I run out of product, I don’t know whether it will be there before Christmas, depending on what time we’re sitting, whether I have to replenish it.”
Larson said she noticed that consumers are starting Christmas shopping sooner than ever.
“We’ve definitely seen a lot of customers come in and start their Christmas shopping,” said Larson.
“At the moment, customers are just worried that our products won’t be in sufficient stocks.”
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As retailers do their best to keep shelves stocked, Canadians plan to spend more on Christmas gifts this year than last year.
British Columbia is predicted to be among the largest donors.
According to the Retail Council’s annual Christmas Spending Survey, British Columbia is expected to spend $ 958 each on Christmas gifts, about $ 200 more than the national average of $ 792, an increase of about 14 percent over that Corresponds to the previous year.
“It’s going to be a lot bigger than last year because last year we were told across the country not to celebrate with our families, but to celebrate virtually,” said Wasylyshen.
“Last year we saw a trend that people donate themselves, that is, buy gifts for themselves. This year it’s back to normal and we’re seeing people want to go to the brick and mortar stores again to do their shopping. They plan to spend more this year. “
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