'Totally different': Shipping problems expected to impact Edmonton holiday shoppers

With more than two months to go before Christmas, shoppers are being warned to buy early to avoid high prices and fewer options – due to supply chain problems and increased shipping costs.

“Generally speaking there will be enough product...the thing to be aware of is that the product might be more expensive,” Heather Thompson, with the University of Alberta School of Business, said.

Many stores are counting on 2021 to help them rebound from pandemic slowdowns, but staffing shortages at major ports and in the trucking industry have retailers worried, Thompson said.

“This is the time of year for retailers... most retailers will do close to a third of their business at this time of year,” she pointed out.

Winter tires, electronics and books are on the list of things in short supply.

At a west Edmonton tire shop Thursday, a truck driver fighting to keep supplies moving said companies are hiring.

“We are desperate for people, it doesn’t matter from dock workers to whatever, we’re desperate for people. Bodies! That can pass drug tests!” Kim Wigley said with a chuckle.

The global problem was also affecting Audrey’s Books on Jasper Ave.

“Containers are in short supply and very expensive, and vessels to carry them are booked heavily,” owner Steve Budnarchuk said.

“These are small incremental delays that are going to add up to a totally different season,” he said, adding if you’re looking for something specific, you should go early.

That was the same advice at Mastermind Toys - where staff said customers have already been stocking up for Christmas.

“We have seen 4 times the sales of advent calendars at this point compared to last year, and so to me that is a really good indication of customers preparing early,” Susan Anderson said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson