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How Supply Chain Issues Could Create Big Problems for Holiday Shopping

You're probably hearing a lot right now about "supply chain issues"—and they're going to have a big impact on Black Friday and holiday gift shopping.
Supply Chain Issues Could Affect 2021 Holiday Shopping
Photo: Getty Images

OK, we know it’s a little early to be getting on your case about holiday shopping, but we have a good reason: Supply chain issues could (and probably will) seriously affect your ability to get anything you buy online—including gifts—this year. 

While there’s always some amount of griping about the holiday shopping season coming too early, this year is absolutely different—because all kinds of industries are short on goods and labor, we're bracing for all kinds of product shortages come November and December. According to new data from Adobe Analytics, current figures project that you can expect to see out-of-stock messages 172% more this holiday season compared to last year, with the most issues forecasted in the categories of clothing, sporting goods, electrics, and baby goods. 


You're probably hearing a lot right now about "supply chain issues;" essentially, the phrase refers to a combination of factors that are preventing goods from being distributed to consumers at a normal pace. The pandemic, labor shortages, and a slew of other factors have caused inflation and bottlenecks at ports, highways, and railways, all of which is dealing a big-time blow to the global supply chain—which means, as one senior White House official told Reuters when asked about holiday shopping, "There will be things that people can't get.” 

These issues don’t look like they’re going to resolve themselves any time soon, but don't freak out. This just means it's a good idea to get a jump on your holiday shopping—and not just because the big name retailers want to stick their fingers in your pocketbook. Realistically, it’s important that consumers be informed about the unfortunate reality that we’re facing as the year comes to an end. 

And yes, this is why major retailers like Walmart and Amazon have already started promoting their early Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals—and even launched some of them by now, mid-October. While Black Friday deals typically don't surface until, well, Black Friday, this year you can expect to see many online stores revealing their holiday deals and gift guides earlier than ever. The Biden administration has backed a plan to keep West Coast ports open 24/7 to help mitigate the issue, but basically, there's no wiggle room to put holiday shopping off until the last minute this year.

Now, don’t make a run for Target just yet. You still have plenty of time to cop all of the great gifts for friends and family, boyfriends and girlfriends, and mildly significant others—you’ll just have to start a touch earlier this year. But whether you're shopping for Halloween costumes (to which we say: order one literally today or you probably won't get one by October 31), gifts for the person you just started dating, or just upping your supply of nightstand drawer fodder, you'll want to do it sooner rather than later if you're on any kind of time crunch.

We’ll continue to update this article as the supply chain situation evolves, but just remember not to yell at your mailman—and to shop early to get everything you want in your own stocking (or someone else's) this year.