US Vice President Kamala Harris warned last week that global supply chain issues could were leading to widespread shortages of products, and that parents should consider buying Christmas presents now in August while goods last.
The remarks were made as Joe Biden’s VP spoke in Singapore last Tuesday.
“The stories that we are now hearing about the caution that if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might be the time to start buying them, because the delay may be many, many months,” Harris said, adding that “across the board, people are experiencing the issue.”
There have been global shortages reported of a variety of products, from food to raw materials, for months due to Covid-19 related disruptions to the global supply chain – shortages which could last “well in 2022”, according to James B. Bullard, CEO of the St. Louis Federal Reserve.
Reportedly, the suppliers of retail giants such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon placed holiday orders for Chinese-made merchandise weeks early this year as they brace for a massive shortage of Christmas toy supplies.
“It’s going to be a major, major mess,” said Isaac Larian, CEO of toy company MGA Entertainment. The company is known for selling LOL Surprise, Bratz, Little Tikes and other toy brands to Amazon, and US retail companies such as Walmart and Target.
Reportedly, Larian’s hundreds of shipping containers worth of Larian’s toys are trapped in Yantian port, which is China’s largest seaport, but which was closed earlier this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“It’s going to hurt the Christmas sales big time,” Larian said.
Additionally, Bernie Thompson, who sells computer equipment through Amazon, told Reuters that it is “too late for Christmas” already, as it can take over a year to acquire some of the highest selling products, which is made all the more difficult by a global computer chip shortage.
Southeast Asia country is cited as auto makers cut production, highlighting little-known but critical link in semiconductor supply chain https://t.co/uqzW8S6hBH
— Jennifer Smith (@jensmithWSJ) August 30, 2021
Additionally, there have even been shortages of vehicle production, as semiconductors needed in the manufacturing of cars have been unavailable. It’s even hit the smart phone industry.
Truckmaker Scania, part of Volkswagen's commercial vehicle arm, will halt production at its European truck plants this week due to the shortage of semi-conductors, it said today. https://t.co/JciTDKRfUS
— RTÉ Business (@RTEbusiness) August 30, 2021
The global chip shortage is starting to hit the smartphone industry https://t.co/XpfX485304
— CNBC (@CNBC) July 29, 2021
Just this week, a UK doctor’s union issued a warning over a “severe” shortage of blood tubes, and earlier this year there were warnings of an acute global shortage of cardboard.
UK doctors union issues warning over ‘severe’ blood tube shortagehttps://t.co/XOe7dsOdIu
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) August 29, 2021
UK businesses suffer cardboard shortages due to ‘Amazon effect’ https://t.co/gfB221GT4b
— Financial Times (@FT) March 12, 2021
One New York Times article today even read: “The world is still short of everything. Get used to it.”
“Pandemic-related product shortages — from computer chips to construction materials — were supposed to be resolved by now. Instead, the world has gained a lesson in the ripple effects of disruption.”
— Keith Bradsher (@KeithBradsher) August 30, 2021
The shortages don’t just apply to materials however – foods have also been affected.
According to a survey by Reuters in late June, at least 9 fast-food chains globally have struggled to acquire key ingredients and products, leading to disruptions to their menus.
Reportedly, Starbucks has been short of many items for months, including iced green tea, and several types of wrap.
“We continue to work closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible,” the company announced in a statement.
“We recommend customers use the Starbucks app to check item availability.”
In the US, several Subway franchises have been missing roast beef, rotisserie chicken, ketchup and spicy mustard, while KFC sometimes are unable to acquire paper bags.
On June 14th, South Korea’s top fast food chain, Lotteria, was forced to substitute french fries on its menu with cheese sticks as pandemic-related product inspections caused supply issues for the product. According to Reuters, French fry shipments were delayed due to longer health-related customs checks and a global shortage of shipping containers.