Do your Christmas shopping early or face a disappointment, experts warn
Persistent supply chain difficulties across the globe mean people will have to prepare for Christmas earlier this year, experts have warned.
The delays and supply costs are due to various issues: the shortage of truck drivers, the impact of Covid, the complications of Brexit and even the blockage of the Suez Canal in Egypt by the cargo ship Ever Given earlier this year always have an impact.
In Ireland, a range of problems, both domestic and international, are affecting supply lines, according to the president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA).
Eugene Drennan said the Suez Canal incident “destroyed the supply line” for about six to ten weeks, and has not fully recovered.
Last March, the Ever Given – one of the largest container ships in the world, carrying around 40,000 containers – was making the trip from Malaysia to the Netherlands when it ran aground in the canal and remained blocked for six days.
“People have taken other ways around it and suddenly when it all comes free you have too many containers on this side of the world and not enough on the Asian side of the world,” he said.
Logistics in Asia are also affected by the Covid. “Their supply, its manufacturing base and its rationalization and the volumes that came out of it were restricted. Because they got time off with reduced working hours and sick leave and everything Covid has brought. ”
As a result, the cost of moving a container from Asia to Ireland has tripled since the start of the pandemic, while goods inside the container have “likely doubled due to lack of supply” .
Getting a container from South East Asia to Ireland can take around three months by sea, up to five weeks by train or plane, with each option being more expensive than the last.
Nationally, costs to carriers have also “absolutely increased”, says the carrier representative, with diesel prices rising by about 26 cents per liter in the past three months.
Some goods destined for Ireland first land in England, particularly in franchise operations, which have “lag and delay and a lot of paperwork,” Drennan added.
When goods arrive at Irish ports, exit times are much shorter, as the ports operate on restricted hours and there is less space to work.
“The time to get them out of the port is shortened. What you would get in a day has gone down to a day and a half or maybe two days.
A driver shortage in Ireland is also having an impact, with Drennan saying it needs to be addressed urgently.
And there is no end in sight, these problems can last until mid-2022.
With all of that in mind, his advice to the public ahead of Christmas is clear: buy now, and not just for expensive gifts.
Even the basic ingredients for Christmas baking must be purchased in advance, he said. “A lot of things have a long-term date. To see her.”
In addition to supply issues, consumers are reminded of new customs rules governing non-EU goods, which came into effect in July.
Angus Laverty, head of public affairs at An Post, was keen to point out that the majority of packages purchased online arrive without a problem, but some are not received.
“An Post’s online shopping delivery for local Irish and European retailers and with major international retailers such as Amazon, Marks & Spencer and River Island is going smoothly, accounting for over 95% of commercial parcels. electronic entering Ireland via An. Poste, ”he said.
But, due to the new rules and Brexit, some customers in Ireland who buy items from smaller stores outside the EU, including UK retailers, experience significant delays or do not receive their goods at all. This is due to both an EU customs requirement for additional electronic documents and the banning or banning of more goods into Ireland from non-EU markets.
“This causes customs delays when these packages arrive in Ireland and / or the items need to be returned to the sender because the necessary electronic data is missing or incomplete, or the content is restricted or prohibited. “
A post has very little control over it, he said, and once customs rule that there isn’t enough information or data on a package, it has to go back. .
“It’s a problem and it has changed the landscape for buyers,” he added.
An Post also warned that gift packages sent by family and friends in Britain to Irish addresses were also affected. Mr. Laverty advises anyone shopping online for Christmas to start now.
” Do it. Skip all the queues. Start now and plan for it, and keep an eye out for all those customs changes that are sure to cause problems for people. ”
He urged people to research information when shopping online and advised shoppers to deal with “established merchants who have a system in place where everything is transparent and visible.”
Mr Laverty said the main thing for people was to “be aware that customs rules have changed and to do a little research”.
The good news for consumers is that there are no such issues when shopping online in Ireland or other EU countries, as no tariffs apply when shopping. shopping in these places.
“Likewise, there’s no problem when shopping from large UK or international retailers where smooth online processes have already been developed with An Post. “
Some stores are already experiencing high demand for traditional gifts.
A spokesperson for Smyths Toys said that “it is always a good idea to avoid the rush and avoid disappointment.”
A spokesperson for Halfords said bikes, scooters, in-vehicle technology, car care tools and car cleaning supplies are expected to be popular giveaways this year.
The spokesperson said bicycle stocks had been hit “by well-documented global supply chain issues” but Halfords has better availability on children’s bikes and e-bikes.
“Our children’s bikes are invariably much sought after Christmas gifts and we expect them to be again this year. So we encourage parents to buy their bikes as early as possible and avoid disappointments on the day. J. “
Jaimie Cantwell – electrical manager at Currys PC World Ireland – said they are already seeing growing demand for “traditional gifts like smartwatches, speakers and headphones”.
“Game consoles are still extremely popular, with a lot of new releases last year, so PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo are all in high demand,” he told.
Mr Cantwell advised keeping an eye out for high-demand items as early as possible to avoid disappointment. He also said the return policy should be considered.
“Keep an eye on the return policy, especially if you buy gifts early this year. We extend our Christmas return policy every year to give consumers peace of mind when shopping with us, but it’s worth checking this out for all of your Christmas gifts.
But why has there been such pressure from businesses to get people to shop earlier? This is largely due to global shipping delays.
So, with all of that in mind, happy shopping. And may the odds always be in your favor.