The wait for the freight: Local businesses, shoppers affected by supply chain at the holidays


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – “It’s on backorder” is just what you don’t want to hear when you’re ordering items during the holiday shopping season. But major problems with the system known as the supply chain are causing delays when it comes to gift-giving, decorating, and building your wardrobe for those holiday gatherings.

Somewhere on container ships off Los Angeles, clothing items are headed for Little Peas Children’s Boutique in the Great Bridge Shopping Center on Battlefield Boulevard.

Timing means everything for the owner of the clothing store for newborns up to age 10, Courtney Tyler.
Her inventory needs to be available at least an entire season ahead of time.

Tyler points out a little girl’s dress that was meant for “back to school and I received it in late October. I’m hoping that people will still buy it for holiday parties, or maybe New Year’s.”

Another corduroy outfit she was supposed to be getting in July arrived three months late. She has some Christmas items, but others won’t arrive for weeks.

“I’ve had to cancel several of my favorite pieces that I thought were coming because they’ll be coming in December and that’s just too late,” Tyler said. The supply chain delays have multiple impacts on her bottom line, because they force her to sell items at a discount because they’re out of season. Plus, shippers are charging her about 5% more for freight.

An expert at Old Dominion University says the reason behind it all is complicated. Production shut down during the pandemic. Demand then surged once consumers felt like the worst was over.

“Consumers need to plan, not panic,” said Erika Marsillac, associate professor of supply chain economics. “People are starting to hear, ‘Oh my goodness, the holiday shopping is going to be problematic’ so let me start now, let me start panic buying things now so I don’t run out. That exacerbates the problem.”

Marsillac says getting shipping containers where they need to be is another challenge.

She says there will definitely be some wrapping paper, decorations and other Christmas items available, but books, toys, technology, clothes and shoes will be delayed by months, not just weeks.

“We are receiving things three to four months later than expected delivery,” Tyler said. We’re hoping customers will be patient and continue to support local business.”

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