Why it might be a good idea to do that Christmas shopping early this year

Port Workers With Shipping Containers

Photo: Getty Images

AMES, Iowa -- It might not be a bad idea to do your Christmas shopping now, as ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related worldwide supply and transportation issues leave stores shelves empty.

"If you see it on the shelf and know it's on someone's list--or expect it to be on someone's list--I'd go ahead and grab it while it's there," says Iowa State University Supply Chain Management Professor Scott Grawe.

He says prolonged transportation issues are making it hard for global manufacturers to get their products to market.

"Because everyone shut down then got going again at different times (during the pandemic), you have shipping containers that are different places all over the globe. Even as manufacturers catch back up and are able to produce the product, they don't have any containers to put it in and send it overseas," Grawe says.

He says some international manufacturers are bringing their export containers back empty, instead of letting them sit in ports waiting to be filled with imported goods, then sent back.

Grawe says it could be next year before those shipping and transportation issues are sorted out.

"Most business leaders that I've talked with expect to see this into 2022. Even then, you can hear that little hint in their voice that it might go well into 2022--just until we can get everything rebalanced from a transportation perspective," he says.

Grawe also says the emergence of the faster-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 could make supply chain issues even worse if shipping companies or ports are forced to close down.

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