Holiday shoppers can make a list, but they might not have time to check it twice if they want presents to be in stock and arrive on time.
Last year more than a third of Postal Service first-class mail was late by the time Christmas arrived. The shipping nightmare has both the U.S. Postal Service and private shippers like UPS and FedEx bringing on more help this year, hiring roughly 230,000 temporary workers. They are also taking other steps like installing new package sorting machines.
Shoppers like Charlotte Wang are not taking any chances. She started her holiday shopping weeks ago and had her Christmas cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving.
“I’m trying to get ahead of the supply chain snarls, but I was asking the post office and even a postcard is going to take like a week to get to New York,” Wang said.
Roughly 3.4 million packages will be shipping this holiday season, which is an increase of about 400 million over last year. Experts say it is important to remember supply chain snags are slowing deliveries not just to your mailbox, but also to stores.
“Retailers are really struggling to keep popular products in stock and ship them out on time and consumers are really going to start feeling that,” Kristin McGrath of RetailMeNot said.
They are already feeling it at Eureka Puzzles in Brookline, where they have outstanding orders for thousands of jigsaw puzzles and hundreds of chess sets.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. There are still shortages. We can’t get everything, but we are trying as hard as we can,” owner David Leschinsky said.
Leschinsky tried to solve part of the problem by installing his own puzzle maker in store, but his one piece of holiday advice is ‘tis not the season to procrastinate.
“If a customer sees something they like, buy it now. Don’t wait. If you come back, it might not be here and I won’t be able to get it in until after the holidays. Some of my vendors got their last shipment in October and they’re not getting another one until February,” Leschinsky said.