Despite bigger shopping budgets, American shoppers are stymied by supply chain issues this holiday season.
Holiday shoppers in the U.S. are accustomed to many things – crowds, mall Santas, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on repeat in every store. In 2021, consumers had to get used to something new – empty shelves.
The ongoing supply-chain crisis has collided with the holiday shopping season, leaving shoppers frustrated, and in some cases, empty-handed. That’s according to a new survey by Digital.com.
Conducted just after the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, traditionally the kick-off of the holiday shopping season, the survey found that more than half of Americans, 56%, started shopping before mid-November.
The early bird didn’t necessarily get the worm, however. Forty percent of those shoppers say they were unable to find all of the items they intended to purchase, despite their head start.
Consumers come up empty-handed on apparel, tech gear, jewelry.
Clothing and shoes, electronics, toys, jewelry, and home decor items are proving to be the most elusive items, according to shoppers. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents reported being unable to find the apparel they wanted.
Forty-three percent found their searches for TVs, headphones, video game systems, and other tech gifts unfruitful, while 39% struggled to acquire toys for all the good little boys and girls on their “nice” list.
Shortages of popular holiday gifts may explain why 64% of consumers who started shopping prior to Black Friday still hadn’t finished at the time of the survey.
Expect to find more gift cards, cold hard cash under the tree this year
When asked what they would do if they are unable to find all of the items on their shopping lists, survey respondents say they plan to turn to a variety of alternatives.
Sixty-four percent of last-minute shoppers plan on giving gift cards if they are unable to find all the items on their shopping lists. Other popular alternatives include cash and homemade gifts. One in five consumers will turn to third-party resellers to track down hard-to-find items.
According to small business marketing consultant Dennis Consorte, gifts with monetary value are a good option for shoppers who scour the aisles and Internet to no avail.
“Eventually, demand will decrease, and supply chain issues will get sorted out,” Consorte says. “At that point, having a gift card for a particular store or service will be very useful to the recipient. Considering how inflated prices currently are, it may also be a better value for the person purchasing the gift.”
After muted 2020 holiday season, nearly 4 in 10 consumers plan to spend more in 2021
However, after the 2020 holiday season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are more willing to spend a little extra to make this holiday season special.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans increased their holiday shopping in 2021. Twenty-two percent of shoppers plan on spending up to $499, while 21% will spend between $500 and $999.
One in three shoppers increased their budgets because they intend to buy more gifts this year than they did last year. Meanwhile, 24% of Americans can literally afford to be more generous, thanks to higher-paying jobs or COVID-related stimulus checks.
However, with a limited amount of time remaining in the holiday shopping season, it remains to be seen if this extra spending money can overcome the other issues facing shoppers.