PORTLAND, Ore. — This weekend, the ongoing supply chain shortage collides with the holiday shopping season. This brutal combination is leaving many wondering whether the items they want will even be in stock.
KGW News spoke with an expert who offered these two takeaways: things will be more expensive due to inflation, and when it comes to availability — be flexible.
This season, the global supply chain backlog is on display and top of mind for the first time in a long time. When asked if he could remember any time prior to the pandemic that compared to this, Dr. Carlos Mena, a supply chain management professor with Portland State University, said not in recent memory. .
"I think the last time we saw disruptions of this scale was the Second World War," he said. "We’re talking 70, 80 years ago. On the contrary, what happened over the last 20 or 30 years is, the supply chains became more and more efficient. We got used to getting deliveries the next day!"
While the pandemic continues to be the root of the problem, Mena noted the issues impacting holiday shopping are complex.
"Particularly for complex products — when you only need one part missing so that you cannot assemble it. If there is one supplier of a particular chip or a particular paint or a particular plastic that you cannot find, you cannot assemble your final product."
On top of that, disruptions to logistics at ports and on the roads add even more of a burden.
When it comes to certain items, from electronics to home improvement tools to appliances, experts say don't expect deep discounts.
Big companies have been actively working to combat issues with supply by ordering more, earlier, as well as taking control over the logistics process to guarantee enough product on the shelves.
However, not every business can get around these problems.
"Some of the smaller companies I think are going to struggle more because the capacity issues are still there, and I think they're going to be there for a while. Those are the ones that we have squeezed out both in prices, and in availability."