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7NEWS Consumer Exclusive: Shipping delays and holiday shopping

Editor’s Note: The following story aired on WSPA 7NEWS on Nov. 9, 2021.

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – There’s a bit of a shadow hanging over holiday shopping this year, three words that could leave even Santa scratching his head: Supply chain crisis.

In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, the concern is not just whether you’ll get the goods in time, but the rising cost of just about everything.

The story is a classic case of cause and effect with the worst timing for parents like Jessica Hines.

“I definitely am seeing a lot more empty shelves, not quite as much selection,” said Hines, a Greenville mother of two.

By now you know, many of those missing goods are sitting in container ships, clogged at ports, but that’s only part of the picture.

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Steven Keller, the Senior Manager at Service Transport Incorporated in Greer, explains a massive shortage of truck drivers and warehouse workers is crippling the supply chain flow. And that can only hurt your wallet.

“Everything you purchased three months ago has most likely gone up. You probably will continue to see that climb. I think it will level off at some time. But it will not level off until the supply chain is moved and leveled out and we have an even flow across,” said Keller.

In fact, the American Truckers Association says we’re short about 80,000 drivers as we head into the holiday season. And that translates to more empty shelves.

It’s no surprise to Hines.

“A couple of the things I know the girls would absolutely love, I’ve looked online, I can’t get them, so I’m just trying to get ahead. It made me realize that it might be a little more difficult this year to get gifts and get things on time for them,” she said.

Stores like Target have added overnight shifts to unload trucks to ease some of the backlog.

“We normally know our trucks like a week in advance, but now we’re just kind of playing day-by-day, night-by-night because we are doing trucks overnight to make sure we are getting it to the shelves in time,” said Rilinda Harris with Target in Greenville.

Harris says there’s no rhyme or reason to what is in short supply. Take electronics; right now, TV’s are abundant but new apple EarPods and the latest Nintendo switch are hard to find. Christmas decorations are also sparse. And even groceries are hit or miss, which means you may want to get that Thanksgiving stuffing early.

As for those cargo ships, the South Carolina Ports Authority says they’re not seeing a backlog because of a major recent investment in a new terminal which can handle more containers.

“South Carolina invested just at the right time. we invested a little over $2 billion in recent years in port infrastructure,” said Kelsi Brewer with the S.C. Ports Authority.

Still, while Charleston has seen a slight uptick in retail goods at its ports, most of America’s goods coming from Asia are tied up on the California coast.

So, when it comes to retail, the message this holiday season is clear: Don’t wait until Black Friday. If you see it, buy it now.

And as Hines will attest, that warning can change any procrastinator into an early bird shopper.

“Normally I am very last minute, and you know I wait, and I get things kind of as I see them, like in the stores or doing regular shopping or whatever, but this year I am definitely starting early,” said Hines.

Now to save money, save those receipts. If you do buy now and the price goes down, you will likely be able to get an adjustment especially if it’s within 14 days.

Also, take advantage of online apps that only offer what is in stock, you can still go that day to pick up items, but at least you won’t make the trip in vain.

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