This month it’s all about September Saves, where we let you in on savvy ways to help with budgeting over Christmas.
Why are we focusing on the holiday period so early in the year? It’s kind of a long story, but one you’d probably like to know a bit more about…
September has long been known (to those in-the-know) as shipping season, as products are manufactured en masse, packaged up, and shipped out across the world just in time for the shopping rush that is November’s Black Friday.
The global supply chain and movement of international goods is usually something that a lot of us don’t give a second thought. It just seems to work silently in the background – when we want or need something, more often than not we’ll be able to find it stacked on a store shelf, or readily available online for next day delivery.
But we’re beginning to realise that we should start paying attention to this ‘silent giant’, as it’s seemingly struggling under the weight of very varied, yet important, factors…
We’ve all heard about the devastating health implications that the spread of the recent pandemic has brought, but it’s also affected us in other ways that are more difficult to assess. Many countries that suffered during the pandemic are also a big part of the global supply chain and have struggled in getting production ramped up again due to multiple industries being disrupted by labour shortages and movement/transportation restrictions.
It’s resulted in stock shortages, slower shipments, larger costs, and overall, less products on the shelf in your local supermarket.
Booming consumer demand.
As we’ve begun to emerge from a rather isolated 18 months, our spending has skyrocketed, and it’s not slowing down.
We’re currently buying so much that the Chief Executive of APM Terminals is warning that only a decrease in consumer demand can ease the strain on the global shipping crisis and give it time to catch up.
Cargo ship shortages.
It seems that when products eventually arrive to docks in China in the hopes to be shipped worldwide, there aren’t enough cargo ships or shipping containers available. This is because the worldwide spending decrease during the early lockdowns lead many large shipping companies to store some of their ships to save money.
Rising demand with fewer ships available has also meant that the cost of shipping has skyrocketed… a year ago the cost of shipping a container across the Pacific Ocean was up to £2,121. Currently, that same journey would cost up to £10,974!
Lorry driver shortages.
It’s no secret that the global supply chain relies heavily on long-haul HGVs, and the drivers who operate them. But lately, multiple factors have coincided to create a perfect storm for the industry, especially in the UK…
A combination of factors leading to the shortage include:
- An ageing current workforce, with thousands of drivers retiring each week
- A lack of interest from younger workers to join the industry, citing anti-social hours and poor pay (wages for a HGV driver have not increased in line with inflation)
- Thousands of EU drivers have left the UK post Brexit, leaving lots of vacancies
- Training costs to become an HGV driver is around £3,500 and can currently take up to 16 weeks to obtain a license, which is seen by many as a deterrent
This has left haulage firms and agencies scrambling to find drivers.
What does all this mean?
It’s leading to a very real sense of urgency in the global supply industry, which is filtering down to retailers and customers, with some economic insiders suggesting that planning early for Christmas may be a very smart move. Before you do, consider the below:
- Retail inventory is expected to be thinner than usual come the usual shopping surge of late November, so try and get it all done sooner rather than later.
- Some products which were originally expected to be released around the holiday season will instead likely arrive sometime in 2022, so be prepared to move on to your second or even third choice.
- Look for locally produced items or even make your own gifts to avoid the supply chain chaos.
It’s not all bad.
Although it seems like there may be some shopping struggle this year, it appears that overall consumer confidence in a traditional Christmas this year is quite high.
According to a report by eBay Ads, 60% of Christmas-celebrating Brits feel optimistic that they’ll be able to celebrate as normal this year, and 30% plan to spend more on presents and celebrations.
It also revealed that a quarter of us feel that Christmas will be more exciting this year – let’s hope so!
So, now you know a little bit more about how those Christmas presents make their way to your local high street, here’s some extra tips to help you bag the best (while stocks last…)
Be a bargain hunter.
Fairly obvious tip to start off with, but considering the supply chain issues we mentioned earlier, we could be seeing the cost of a lot of products increase come December. As always, keep your eyes peeled for discounts and deals. If you’re planning on avoiding crowds and doing the majority of your shopping online, free web browser extensions like Honey can be very useful for finding discount codes to make your basket cheaper…
Ditch the gift cards.
Gift cards are always a solid bet for those extended family members who you’re never really quite sure what to get. They’re less personalised than a specific gift, but more thoughtful than cash – an acceptable medium.
However, with the amount of retailers that have had to close their doors in the last 18 months, it might be best to avoid this year’s gift card haul – you never know which stores could close down next, and there’s usually very little you (or the recipient) can do to get your money back.
Prep for next Christmas.
Post-Christmas sales (we’re talking the ones in January, not the ones on Boxing Day) are usually filled to the brim with things like wrapping paper, crackers, cards, trees, tree decorations and more. Save yourself the hassle of buying the ‘essentials’ when it’s too late next year, and grab them while they’re cheap and available!
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