Holiday shopping after October could leave you celebrating in January, expert says

The Donlon Report

(NewsNation Now) — It’s not the first warning, but a retail analyst is raising the alarm for holiday procrastinators: This is not the year to wait.

If you don’t buy your gifts before Halloween, you’ll be giving them after New Year’s Day, said Hitha Herzog, chief research officer of H Squared Research LLC, a research firm for registered investment advisors.

“Anything having to do with electronics, from your televisions, to your PlayStations, if you have people in your family that are dying for something that has any sort of microchip that you can think of, my suggestion is to buy it now,” Herzog said on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report.”

The issue is the culmination of nearly two years of logistical disruptions in the supply chain. Coronavirus shutdowns overseas caused factories to stand still and orders to back up. When the factories resumed, some companies ordered more than normal to make up for the delays and stave off future shortfalls.

The result was overwhelmed factories, many of which ended up shutting down again as COVID-19 waves ebbed and flowed.

Another bottleneck lies off the coast of Los Angeles. Hundreds of ships, each with thousands of containers of goods, are stuck in line. There aren’t enough dock workers, or hours in the day, to unload them.

“These containers have everything from bicycles, Christmas decorations, electronics, even in some cases, they have toilet paper,” Herzog said. “These are all containers that need to get to the store.”

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States. As of Tuesday, there were 64 ships berthed at the two ports and 80 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

The Biden administration announced a deal to expand the port’s operating hours to 24/7, but Herzog is not sure that will be enough to get things fixed in time for Christmas. There is also a truck driver shortage, so goods may not be able to move even after they’re unloaded from the ships.

“It’s basically a perfect storm of product that needs to get into the stores, and not enough people to deliver those products in time for us to buy them and potentially give those out as gifts.”

She says industry leaders believe the soonest this could clear up is June 2022, though some are more pessimistic and predicting some time in 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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