Few news stories better reflect the CivicScience motto of “everything affects everything” quite like the ongoing supply chain crunch. Ship and shipping container traffic jams, higher prices, barren shelves, monthslong delays, labor shortages, and that persistent pandemic make it a fool’s errand to attribute supply shortages to any sole factor. As The Atlantic put it last week: “America Is Running Out of Everything.”
If you’ve tried to purchase a wide variety of goods — that could be a new couch, gaming system, refrigerator, car, at-home COVID test, chicken wings at the pub — within the past few months, you’ve almost certainly felt the all-encompassing supply chain strain. Since an escape hatch doesn’t seem imminent, CivicScience wanted to check on Americans’ assessment of supply chain issues as the holiday season approaches.
How bad are supply chain issues right now? Quite bad. Everyone seems to agree on that part, with a vast majority of Americans classifying the problem as “significant” or “severe.”
But consumers have different perspectives on how the supply chain crisis directly impacts their lives. Most Americans primarily associate global supply chain issues with paying a higher price for goods or items being out of stock. Consumers making less than $50,000 annually are more likely than the Gen Pop to associate supply issues with purchase caps on in-demand items at the store.
Most experts agree that the supply chain issues plaguing booksellers, vinyl record manufacturers, auto companies, and more will linger well into 2022. This means the holiday shopping season — yes, the one just two months away — might require some extensive planning. Last week, CivicScience found that an increasing number of Americans are already thinking about and starting their holiday shopping compared to this time last year. More than half of Americans claim to be very or somewhat concerned about supply chain issues impacting their holiday shopping.
Americans currently shopping in stores more than they typically would this time of year are more than twice as likely to be very worried about supply chain backup impacting their holiday shopping plans. Those shopping less in store than usual — and presumably those more reliant on online orders — also outpace the Gen Pop in their level of concern.
When you think of common holiday wishlist items, some of the supply chain’s worst casualties — furniture, kitchen appliances, cars, chicken wings — aren’t exactly ideal gifts. But tech products, and especially the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, are likely to be hot items. Both of those consoles have been extremely competitive purchases for over a year due to semiconductor shortages, so you can imagine many kids and adults needing to settle for their second choice.
From the gift-giver’s perspective, nearly one-third of Americans will buy another item entirely if they can’t get the tech product on their friend or family’s wishlist. But 20% are willing to play the waiting game, which is likely to make those ultracompetitive PS5 and Xbox drops all the more intimidating as the holiday season heats up.
Big Target fans are most likely to defect to another brand if supply chain issues interfere with their holiday tech purchases, and Target favorables are also much more likely to wait out shortages than shoppers who don’t like the store. Americans who don’t like Target are also more than twice as likely as Target’s strongest supporters to not do any holiday shopping at all this year.
Much like the pandemic that just won’t quit, Americans will have to reorient their long-term shopping habits and adapt their immediate holiday plans to get ahead of the supply chain crunch. If all goes well, more Americans will be able to gather safely with friends and family this holiday season compared to last year. But getting the items atop your wishlist in a timely fashion might be more of a longshot.