Global labour shortage could mean a pricier Christmas

It’s time to think Christmas because those popular presents everyone wants are likely going to be in short supply due to a global labour shortage that is causing slowdowns in manufacturing, shipping issues, and the cost of goods to swell.

While many may not be thinking Christmas in late September, it’s been top-of-mind for Letitia Peckford, since the start of the month. She and her son Preston are at Playvalue Toys in Carp to pick some potential gifts.

“I told Preston we could take pictures and put it on a list for Santa,” says Peckford. “I like to make my list early and keep my eye out for deals; it’s not such a big upfront cost when it’s spread out over a few months.”

Throughout the pandemic, inflation has increased at near-record highs and, in turn, the cost of goods to consumers has increased as well. A global labour shortage has created a supply-chain mess that has already affected the holiday season.

Overseas manufacturing has been impacted and the cost to ship goods has ballooned. Shipping containers have become scarce and incredibly expensive. According to data from independent maritime research consultancy group Drewry, one year ago, companies would pay around USD $1,900 to book a 40-foot steel container on a standard route between Asia and Europe. Today, prices can range up to USD $14,000.

The problem of shipping has become so severe that big box stores like Costco are chartering ships and renting containers in order to transport their goods between Asia, the United Stated and Canada.

The moves comes as major retailers deal with delays in toys and video games, as well as a world-wide computer chip shortage, all coming at additional costs that are passed down to the consumer.

Janet Jones, an owner with Playvalue Toys, says the store has been stocking up on their products, like their massive collection of Lego sets, since spring.

“We’ve just been very proactive in putting in a lot of big orders in early so that we don’t get caught short. We do have a big warehouse at our location, so that gives us a buffer from the future shortages,” says Jones, adding that since the start of the year, prices have been trending higher from suppliers. “There was an August first increase, another on September first; our play structure manufacture out of the U.S., October first their prices are going up ten per cent.”

Jones says that while their supply is secure for the upcoming holiday season, those looking to get the latest and greatest gifts should start shopping now to avoid the late rush and potential of limited supply.

“At that point what people have is what they’re going to have.”