Held up at nation's shipping ports: Thousands of ugly Christmas sweaters and other yuletide paraphernalia

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

Go back just a year ago and it wouldn't have mattered that three 40-foot corrugated metal shipping containers stuffed with thousands of ugly holiday sweaters couldn't make their way out of a California port.

Who was going out to the bars? Or heading to a big family dinner? Who worried about buying a new quirky sweater when life looked grim as COVID-19 cases soared?

Fred Hajjar, president of Michigan-based, sold a lot of holiday lounge pants and pajamas last year as people stayed home.

Now he sees the ugly sweaters making a beautiful comeback, as more people feel festive, plan to see family and continue to shop from home. He estimates the online retailer will sell 100,000 or more in holiday sweaters.

"I'm fairly confident, it's going to be a big year," Hajjar said. "Christmas sweaters, there'll definitely be a shortage."

Demand is driving optimism this year but kinks in the supply chain, including bottlenecks along various points in the transportation system, could cut into supply. We're hearing talk about potential shortages of toys, trees and, yes, maybe even holiday sweaters.


Where's Jay and Silent Bob?

The ugly sweater story is a local snapshot of shortages, higher prices and headaches or opportunities, depending on your point of view. Many ugly vintage Christmas sweaters, after all, started out in the late 1980s and as another person's merry fashion statement.

Hajjar is facing skyrocketing transportation costs, extraordinary delays and worrying about those three containers of sweaters and pajamas.

"Ours are stuck, I believe, in Long Beach," Hajjar said.


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