Turkey prices are higher this season, container ships are waiting longer than usual to dock into California ports and the American Christmas Tree Association said there is a nationwide shortage of trees.
There were two billion out-of-stock messages online in October, according to Adobe Digital Price Index data, which tracks more than one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs (the scannable barcode on a product) and 19 product categories.
Ahead of Black Friday, which is traditionally marked as the start of the holiday shopping season, there is concern some items will not be in stock, or won’t be as discounted. Using public insights tool Crowdtangle, VERIFY searched for both “Black Friday” AND “supply chain,” and found more than 400 public Facebook posts (across groups and pages) from Nov. 15 through Nov. 22.
On Twitter, some small businesses alerted customers that they won’t be offering any sales for Black Friday or Cyber Monday because of supply chain issues.
Are there fewer deals this year because of ongoing supply chain issues?
Yes, there are fewer deals this year because of ongoing supply chain issues.
WHAT WE FOUND
“In normal circumstances, the deals on Black Friday tend to be better than other times throughout the year. This is not a normal year,” Ray Wimer, a professor of retail practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, told VERIFY.
To analyze price trends from the upcoming holiday season, VERIFY looked at data from the Adobe Digital Price Index. Adobe compared prices on items on Nov. 6 versus prices on Oct. 1, both this year and last year. This data is commonly used to project trends and discounts for the holiday season overall.
Discounts on most electronics are at 8.7%, down from 13.2% at the same time last year; sporting goods discounts are at 2.8%, down from 11.2%. And some items have no discounts at all - for example, tools and home improvement products are actually 1.2% more expensive.
There are a few areas where deals are as good or even better than last year. Discounts for televisions and furniture are on par with last year while toys are more discounted at 15.9%, compared to 7.5% last year. Computers are being discounted at 12.4%, compared to 11.9% last year, the Adobe data said.
Daniel Stanton, or “Mr. Supply Chain” as he goes by, is an instructor and author of Supply Chain Management for Dummies. He told VERIFY prices “across the board” are increasing because transportation costs are at record highs, material costs are high and labor costs are going up as well.
Jonathan Gold, the vice president of Supply Chain and Customs Policy for the National Retail Federation (NRF), wrote on the NRF website that despite the challenges faced with the supply chain, “retailers are working around the clock to ensure that products will be available for the holidays.”
“Retailers have been bringing in merchandise for months and are confident they have enough inventory on hand to meet demand — as long as shoppers are flexible,” the post said.
Stanton said people need to be more flexible about what they buy “just in time," or when you need it, versus “just in case,” buying items to hoard or that you might need down the road.
Stanton gave VERIFY a list of tips for shoppers to consider amid the supply chain crisis:
- If there's something very specific that you know you want, and it's got to be exactly that thing, just go ahead and order it early.
- If it's something that you can be a little bit flexible on, look for alternatives. “If the exact product you want isn't available, is there a different brand or is there a different model that is available? Try to be flexible and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there,” he said.
- If you're a bargain hunter and just looking for great deals, wait until after peak buying season as there are various products that aren't available right now because they're hung up in the supply chain.
“Once things start moving, and that inventory actually ends up at the stores, then they're really going to have to get creative in finding ways to get rid of it. And that's probably going to mean some really amazing deals'' he told VERIFY. “If you're still looking to give gifts, but you don't want to spend more than you need to, and you want to take advantage of those opportunities down the road. Actually, gift cards might not be a bad option this year.”