MILWAUKEE - The Christmas season is two months away, but if you plan to get all of your gifts on time, experts say you should start shopping now. This is largely in response to supply chain issues around the world.
At Port Milwaukee, we won't see the backlog of container ships that's happening in California, as Port Milwaukee does not handle containers, but with so much of the nation's goods entering the U.S. through California, the advice from supply chain experts is simple -- just don't wait.
From wage demands and vaccine mandates to labor shortages and shipping delays, supply chain challenges are already impacting commerce beyond the holiday shopping season.
"This year is definitely different," said Anna Land, associate professor of supply chain at UW-Whitewater.
It's why Land says if you're able to do so, try gift shopping a little early this year instead of waiting for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or even later.
"Go ahead and start taking a look now because you might already see that items are already low in stock now, well before Christmas," said Land.
The National Retail Federation estimates 49% of holiday shoppers will start buying gifts before November 2021, up from 42% in 2020.
Land says another reason to shop early could be an expected jump in shipping costs due to container delays and not enough truck drivers to then transport those goods off-shore.
"Retailers are trying to do everything they can to keep the prices down early on, but we might expect shipping prices to continue to rise and they're going to likely pass on those costs to the consumer," said Land.
In fact, major retailers have already begun offering their holiday sales to encourage early shopping in an "all-in" effort to keep the shelves stocked this season.
"Manufacturers are rethinking the traditional 'just-in-time' production and lean inventory because we're realizing the effects of that now," said Land.
Land says if you're interested in a certain product, try contacting the business to see what their shipping expectations are. Of course, a trip to a physical store could alleviate that issue, too.