The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple problems within the supply chain, and we still have not yet completely recovered. The 2021 holiday season will only bring along more challenges, which means flea market and swap meet vendors need to start preparing now if they want to get products in on time and keep customers happy.
Increased Holiday Spending
According to the CDC, over 56 percent of Americans 12 and up are fully vaccinated. With vaccinations rising, daily virus cases and deaths due to COVID-19 have gone down, which, in turn, has reduced anxiety and concerns about health. Since fears around COVID are declining, consumer spending is expected to grow a total of eight percent this year, and four percent in 2022.
“I think in a lot of ways, what is fueling this uptick in sales is customers wanting to reclaim all of those moments that were lost last year between birthdays and holidays and not being able to celebrate together, and that is a big factor this year,” Mike Rittler, head of Retail Card Services at TD Bank, said. “They are going to want to spend more time together, and there is more travel involved as well as entertainment, events, activities, and gifts. I think as we get into the holidays, you will see all of that, combined with the lower debt loads that everyone was carrying, which will bode really well for a strong holiday season.”
How to be Prepared
Because of this expected increase on holiday spending, the ongoing disruptions in the supply chain will likely still be affecting sellers later in the year. This means preparations need to be made in order to meet customer needs and provide a quality shopping experience. According to Hemant Kalbag, Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group, we are anywhere between nine to 12 months away from the supply chain returning to normal.
“My advice for smaller retailers is to think carefully and logically about the expected demand,” Kalbag said. “You are better off selling out of what you have rather than overstocking and being stuck with leftover products. Anticipate that the demand will likely go back to normal levels.”
Laura Ritchey, COO of Radial, also suggests that proactive planning, including identifying contingency plans, is critical to preparing for potential supply chain disruptions. Vendors should look at their organization as a whole to see where issues could arise, and valuable insight can be gained through assessing inventory levels and comparing them to current consumer demand. Additionally, sellers can partner with experts in the channels that they need the most support, whether that be a need for reliable fulfillment and transportation as they enter a new market, support with customer care when communicating potential delays, or even activating new channels to embrace changing customer preferences in the post-pandemic world.
Sourcing Made in USA Products
Probably one of the best ways to be prepared for the holiday season is by sourcing products that are made in the U.S. Not only will you beat all of the global shipping delays, but you will also help to boost the local economy and keep jobs secure within the country. According to a study by The Reshoring Institute, nearly 70 percent of consumer respondents said they prefer American-made products, and slightly more than 83 percent said they would pay up to 20 percent more for products made domestically. So even though the prices may go up slightly, the majority of shoppers are still willing to pay more for them.
The important thing is not to be frightened by the supply chain disruptions that may affect your business in the oncoming months. Instead, take some of these tips with you to help be fully prepared and keep business running smoothly during one of the busiest times of the year.