Okanagan residents get early start on Christmas shopping due to supply chain challenges

Click to play video: 'Consumers advised to get their Christmas shopping done early this year' Consumers advised to get their Christmas shopping done early this year
Consumers advised to get their Christmas shopping done early this year – Oct 22, 2021

The Retail Council of Canada is strongly recommending consumers get an early start on their Christmas shopping this year.

“We are definitely recommending that people shop early if they want certain products, models and brands that they are looking for,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada.

The advice comes as a result of COVID-19-related supply chain challenges.

“There are quite a few issues right now,” Wasylyshen told Global News. “It really is a perfect storm.”

Read more: Rising food prices are forcing grocery shoppers to change habits: ‘It’s been hard’

The challenges have been blamed on cargo ship backlogs and pandemic-related shortages of labour and materials, many of which come from overseas.

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“We have seen in China and Vietnam, they have had situations where they have actually completely shut down their porst in order to deal with COVID outbreaks,” Wasylyshen said.

“So they have shut down their ports for a week or two weeks at a time and that’s had massive global implications.”

Freight and shipping costs, said Wasylyshen, have also contributed to the challenging situation.

According to the Retail Council of Canada, some of items that may be in short supply come November and December, the two biggest shopping months of the year, include toys, clothing, and seasonal accessories as well as big ticket items such as electronics, furniture and appliances.

“I don’t want to raise any alarm bells,” said Wasylyshen. “There’s certainly a supply out there.

“There are products on shelves but because of the supply chain challenges right now, it just might not be the exact product or brand that somebody is looking for and so if you leave it to the last minute, you might have to substitute a different colour, a different model, a different make or you may need to postpone the purchase altogether.”

Click to play video: 'Supply chain delays threaten Christmas shopping' Supply chain delays threaten Christmas shopping
Supply chain delays threaten Christmas shopping – Oct 5, 2021

At the Unhinged Gift and Lifestyle Boutique in Kelowna, while the majority of products are from Canada, owner Jenn Larson said even shipping within the country has proved challenging

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“Normally I can get product from some suppliers within one to two weeks but now I’m looking at sometimes six weeks’shipping time,” she told Global News. “So if I run out of product, just depending on what time we’re sitting at, I don’t know if it will be in before Christmas, if I need to restock.”

Larson said she’s noticed consumers getting an earlier start on Christmas shopping than ever before.

“We have definitely seen a lot of customers coming in and getting their Christmas shopping started,” Larson said.

“Customers right now are just worried that there’s not going to be enough stock on our products.”

Read more: Home appliance shortage hit by global supply chain crisis. When can consumers expect relief?

While retailers do their best to keep shelves stocked, Canadians are planning on spending more on Christmas gifts this year than last.

British Columbians are predicted to be among the biggest spenders.

According to the Retail Council’s annual Christmas spending survey, British Columbians are expected to spend $958 each on Christmas gifts, about $200 more than than the national average of $792., representing about a 14-per cent increase from last year.

“It’s going to be a lot bigger than last year because last year across the country we were told not to celebrate with our families, to celebrate virtually,” said Wasylyshen.

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“We saw a trend last year of people doing self-giving so buying themselves gifts. This year it’s back to normal so we are seeing that people want to go back to brick and mortar stores to do their shopping. They plan on spending more this year.”

Click to play video: 'New survey finds Canadians are more optimistic going into the holiday season' New survey finds Canadians are more optimistic going into the holiday season
New survey finds Canadians are more optimistic going into the holiday season – Oct 22, 2021

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