ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – This year’s holiday shopping may mean a shorter gift list as stores across the country feel the brunt of international supply chain issues. Businesses say a lack of drivers to transport goods from shipping ports along the coasts, could mean empty aisles.
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Some local shops are already seeing the supply chain delays, but on the flip side, one area business says they’re seeing the opposite. While some New Mexico stores may be slowing down from lack of inventory, things are busier than usual at Sport Systems, as they try to catch up on orders from last year as they finally come in.
“A year ago, we took a massive $2 million gamble. We said, you know, we think the supply issue in COVID might continue and let’s take a chance and order big,” said Duane Kinsley, owner of Sport Systems. “Orders in the thousands, 2,500 bikes, thousands of tires and tubes, skis, snowboards, shoes. We ordered in huge quantities and we’re getting them now. It’s not that there’s not a supply issue, there is. It’s just that we ordered it a year ago and we’re just now getting it today.”
The local store says they saw a demand for outdoor activities like cycling and skiing and decided to order whatever was available, whenever they could. All of it finally started arriving in recent weeks. For now, that means turning their warehouse into a game of Tetris as they work to fit the goods coming in.
“It’s been all hands on deck trying to get everything unboxed, ready for sale, and up on the sales floor upstairs,” said Jose Webber with Sport Systems. “We’ve had to resort to shifting things all over the warehouse floor, putting them in places they hadn’t been before.”
However, other stores haven’t been as lucky with the boom in supply. Ports along the West Coast continue to become backlogged with ships carrying goods from overseas, as companies remain short on drivers to transport the goods across the country. That means seeing fewer products on store shelves like fruits and fish to televisions and toys.
The UNM Economics Department says early pandemic closures play a big part in this delayed outcome. Lecturer Dave Dixon calls it the “perfect storm.”
“A lot of firms shrank. A lot of firms either stopped producing or transporting things because of labor shortages or because they anticipated shortages,” said Dixon. “That’s part of what impacted the chip industry, for example, that’s affected cars so much.”
Dixon says many of those workers found alternative work and may not want to come back to their old jobs. On the other end of the “storm,” exporters of goods in other countries are seeing the same issues.
“Another part of the storm has been energy shortages and labor shortages in China where 85% of the consumer goods that people are not finding on their shelves, come from,” said Dixon. “It’s not just affecting consumer goods. It’s affecting everything and that’s going to keep this slowdown going.”
Back at Sport Systems, Kinsley says the winter sports industry is already sold out for the year. While things are up in the air, the fact that things are already selling out could mean they may have to pre-order next season’s supply soon.
“If we were to special order something right now, a ski or snowboard, we wouldn’t see it for over a year. People need to choose from what’s in a store because you’re not going to be able to special order it,” said Kinsley. “The supply issue is particularly bad now and might get worse in the coming months before it gets better, but we do think it’ll get to somewhat normal.”
Dixon says there’s not just a shortage in consumer goods. There are also issues with getting replacement items for trucks, cargo ships, and more that are needed to ship products, delaying the process even more. He says these delays likely won’t get resolved well into next year, after the holiday shopping season.