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Susan Tompor: How to find gifts -- and joy -- if a toy shortage hits during the holidays

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

"There were no issues with toy shortages," said Miller, who keeps a close eye on inventories as an associate professor of logistics in the department of supply chain management at Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business.

Miller said he did not notice a substantial price increase for the dolls, either, which is consistent with Bureau of Labor Statistics data that indicates that the import price index of toys has stayed relatively constant over the past year.

Clearly, we will continue to see glitches along the way this holiday season when it comes to unloading toys and other products at the ports and getting those goods on trucks and then stocking items on store shelves. But a crisis? Miller isn't forecasting one.

Part of the problem, Miller said, is that there are fewer long-distance truck drivers than before COVID, which makes it difficult to handle additional import volume.

On top of that, railroads are currently hauling fewer containers off cargo ships than last year. Trucks ultimately will need to make up that shortfall as cargo ships are unloaded and that's going to stretch the trucking system further.

But Miller said there aren't signs that we're heading into crisis levels in trucking based on leading indicators, such as the costs associated with freight that is hauled and priced on a spot basis.


Are consumers now ready to spend?

This year, retailers are more worried about supply chain issues because it appears that holiday festivities are making a comeback.

Consumer optimism is high with many shoppers reporting they are back to work, have money in their wallets, and are ready to spend in-store and online, according to the findings of the September KPMG consumer pulse survey.

The KPMG report noted: "More than half (55%) report their household income has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. An additional 12% said their income has surpassed those levels."


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