Eggemeyer’s General Store

All across the United States, millions of Americans are getting ready to fill shopping baskets and empty wallets in anticipation of Black Friday. However, recent disruptions in worldwide supply chains may put a damper on typical shopping activities.


According to the New York Times, the disruptions date back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 when factories in places where a lot of global manufacturing capacities lie (such as China, Germany and Vietnam) were forced to reduce production or shut down entirely in the wake of coronavirus cases affecting their workforce.


In response to this, many shipping companies, including ocean-faring companies and land-based trucking companies,  cut their schedules in preparation for a drop in demand for shipping. This did occur in an effective range to most people, namely with a sharp decline in demand for products and services related to restaurants, travel and other highly social activities. However, demand for household products skyrocketed at the same time due to changes in work and home life as people began to face extended periods of time at home due to lockdowns.


Additionally, vital resources such as shipping containers and the ships that carried them became trapped in ports. Protective goods such as face masks and hospital gowns shipped from China to the rest of the world caused countries and geographic regions with low amounts of exports to be stuck with the surplus of shipping equipment. Meanwhile, ports and docks in the United States and Europe were overwhelmed with a sudden, heavy influx of ships.


These problems began to pile on top of each other, resulting in a perfect storm of manufacturing and shipping problems that disrupted supply chains on a global scale. This has caused a scarcity of available goods all across the world, affecting day-to-day life and, unsurprisingly, putting a damper on the holiday shopping season. In turn, major retailers and local stores alike have been forced to plan carefully in order to keep their shelves stocked and customers happy.


Take Target, for example. In a recent article, the retailer emphasized the important role their supply chain and inventory teams have had in preparing for the holidays, saying, “. . . our supply chain and inventory teams have been working proactively to move products fast from overseas to U.S. ports and on to our supply chain facilities and stores. Because of their hard work, our inventory is up substantially compared to the same time last year, helping us feel prepared to deliver for millions of families this season.”


Target has also worked to reduce congestion at the ports by opting to move approximately 50% of their containers at night. They are also looking to increase port efficiency through joining other effective causes, saying that, “Big picture, we’re also contributing to collaborative efforts that help improve efficiency at the ports, like joining the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and the National Shipper Advisory Committee at the Federal Maritime Commission to support holistic solutions for the United States’ supply chain.”


At the local level, San Angelo shop owners have attempted to adapt to the supply chain disruptions.


Tammy Shoults, general store manager of local Black Friday hotspot Eggemeyer’s General Store, gave insight on how the issues in worldwide supply chains have impacted their business operations.


“On our end, what we see is that out of everything that we’ve ordered, at least half of what we’ve ordered is what actually comes in,” Shoults said. “You can’t depend on it to completely get here, even if you’ve ordered it for somebody.”


Shoults also spoke about how the store is handling the disruptions.


 “We’re just taking the brunt of it and trying to work with what we have, as well as explaining it to customers and being kind and courteous to them,” Shoults said. “If we don’t have what it is they necessarily want, we try to come up with an alternate plan that is close to what they want.”


The store is also relying on their experience from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year to get them through the supply chain turmoil.


“We’ve tried to make sure that we’ve allotted for it and ordered enough ahead of time so maybe [our products] will continue to trickle in, hopefully,” Shoults said. “I think it’s continually been getting better.”


Shoults also recommended savvy customers consider shopping earlier this year.


“Many of them are actually buying early, so that might not be a bad plan to shop a little earlier so that you’re not in the last minute,” Shoults said. “I think that the last minute is going to be difficult because you’re going to be stressed finding things and because the odds of getting more product in to replace what’s sold is low.”


Many predictions are being made about when the supply chain disruptions will end; industry giants and notable companies are expecting issues well into 2022 and 2023 according to CNBC.


With an uncertain future for the global flow of supplies and no end in immediate sight, holiday shoppers may need to plan ahead to get what they want. If not, the motto may just be “Black Friday or Bust” this holiday season. 


Black Friday, Target, Eggemeyer's General Store

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