Vacation shoppers can make a list but may not have time to double-check if they want the gifts to be in stock and arrive on time.
Last year, more than a third of first-class mail was late for Christmas. The shipping nightmare has given the US Postal Service as well as private shippers such as UPS and FedEx increased support this year and hired around 230,000 temporary workers. They’re also taking other steps like installing new package sorting machines.
Buyers like Charlotte Wang don’t take any chances. She started her Christmas shopping weeks ago and had her Christmas cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving.
“I’m trying to forestall the clutter in the supply chain, but I asked the Post and even a postcard will take about a week to get to New York,” said Wang.
Around 3.4 million parcels will be sent this Christmas season, around 400 million more than in the previous year. Experts say it’s important to remember that supply chain issues are slowing shipments not only to your mailbox but also to stores.
“Retailers are really struggling to keep popular products in stock and get them out on time, and consumers are really going to feel it,” said Kristin McGrath of RetailMeNot.
They are already feeling it at Eureka Puzzles in Brookline, where they have pending orders for thousands of puzzles and hundreds of chess games.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. There are still bottlenecks. We can’t get everything, but we give everything we can, ”said owner David Leschinsky.
Leschinsky tried to solve part of the problem by installing his own puzzle maker in the store, but his only vacation advice is that it’s not the time of year to procrastinate.
“If a customer sees something they like, buy it now. Do not wait. If you come back it might not be here and I won’t be able to bring it in until after the holidays. Some of my suppliers received their last delivery in October and won’t receive another one until February, ”said Leschinsky.