Ho ho, uh oh

Supply chain challenges coupled with labour shortages may become the Grinch that steals Christmas this year

THE WEEKS LEADING up to the holidays may not be so merry and bright for businesses as they continue to contend with increased demand, labour shortages and a major supply chain crunch.

Shoppers are ready to hit the stores in-person and online this year, and a recent survey from The Retail Council of Canada found that holiday spending for consumers is expected to increase at least 14 per cent year-over-year. The survey also found that Canadians plan to shop earlier than before this year, with supply problems being the most cited reason.

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While this should be good news for Canada’s economic recovery after the Covid-related closures and lockdowns, many retailers are urging shoppers to start purchasing earlier than ever to circumvent supply chain issues currently plaguing businesses, especially with the damage caused by the recent B.C., floods and mudslides adding to the woe.

In fact, to a recent poll by KPMG, nearly three-in-five Canadians (58 per cent) who have started their holiday shopping have not been able to find what they want.

James Norris, co-owner of London’s Express Employment Professionals franchise, says the holiday season has the potential to be create a perfect storm of high demand and severe labour shortages, compounded by supply chain issus that further delay the creation and delivery of goods.

Ho ho, uh oh supply chain RetailExpress Employment Professionals London co-owners Michael Elliott and James Norris

“We are seeing a large number of companies experiencing supply chain issues — no specific industry seems to be immune from this,” says Norris. “Delays in products getting to companies is the main issue with their suppliers being unable to provide exact timelines on when products should arrive.”

But delays in the supply chain aren’t the only major problem ― labour shortages in supply chain jobs have also become severe, says Norris.

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“We are seeing shortages in truck drivers, warehouse workers such as shipper-receivers or pick and packers and forklift operators,” Norris says. “Even with sign-on bonuses being offered and wages increasing, shortages in these job categories persist.”

Norris believes the supply chain issues are not short-term problems.

“I do not see an end in sight,” he says. “The upcoming year looks to have many of the same issues we are currently facing with many companies unable to completely solve their staffing shortages and remaining behind in filling customer orders or production.”

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Interestingly, one major outcome of supply chain issues could be that Canadian companies begin to source and purchase goods closer to home.

“The issues caused at many seaports will not be stopping anytime soon, and could get worse before they get better,” Norris says. “The only way for companies to try and avoid this is to source materials and products from local companies that will not have these challenges in getting the products and materials to them.” Ho ho, uh oh supply chain Retail

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