Normally, we would think early October is way too soon for a “shop local” editorial. But this year, like last, will be far from normal and will pose special problems when it comes to finding the perfect gifts for family, friends and other loved ones.
Last week, The Daily News reported supply-chain woes wrought by the pandemic are causing many problems up and down the line.
“The supply chain has been stretched from end to end for the better part of the pandemic,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.
The disruption to the supply chain stems from several areas, Gold said. In addition to the increased demand for products, there’s a shortage of vessels to ship products across the ocean, a shortage of empty containers to hold those products and problems finding people to unload the products at ports and then transport them on trucks, he said.
“It seems like with every piece of the supply chain there are different challenges,” he said.
And it isn’t just the big-box stores that are affected. Local merchants are feeling the squeeze, even if they sell exclusively handcrafted items. That’s because even artists are having a hard time securing supplies.
That all adds up to limited selection, shelves that are left empty rather than replenished when a product sells out and, very likely, higher prices.
And if you still plan to shop online, you have all of that to deal with along with extra-long shipping times.
What we wrote here last year on Nov. 12 is just as true now a month earlier this year: It’s almost too late to start your holiday shopping if you plan to do any of it online. Only this year, the same goes for in-person shopping, too.
And like last year, we encourage you to shop local. Many local merchants still are reeling from pandemic-related hits to business and need your support.
This reminder also comes from last year:
“Most shops may be small compared to those making national headlines, but locally and collectively, they are the heartbeat of our community. As we all learn to shape our new reality, let’s commit to spending our dollars with a purpose — one we carry with the same kind of respect we do in the voting booth.”
And in this time when your shopping choices may be limited, we offer two other bits of advice:
• Don’t go out looking for something specific for someone specific. Wander the aisles and nooks and crannies and let the perfect gifts call out to you from what your favorite store owner has on hand.
• Think experiences, like restaurant gift certificates, movie tickets, admission to local museums or other experiences and services.
The pandemic has caused many of us to rethink what we want and what we need. Whether that introspection leads you to buying bigger, better and more or to scale back to the basics, shop safe, shop sane, shop local and, yes, shop early. Really early. Like now.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner