5 Reasons Why the Supply Chain Is the Scariest Thing This Halloween
It’s Spooky Season, and that means it’s time for carving pumpkins, handing out (okay, eating) candy, and fashioning your most over-the-top costume. Oh, and watching Hocus Pocus on repeat. But I have some news that is scarier than anything you’ll see in a horror film: the supply chain is trying to slash your Halloween plans.
During a recent trip to one of the big craft stores to get my spooktacular necessities, all I found were empty shelves. So, I waited in line for half an hour (because labor shortages) to be told that the Halloween wares weren’t sold out — they hadn’t arrived yet.
The very next day I called Jim Hull, our Senior Industries Strategy Director, to share my frightening shopping experience, and he confirmed my worst nightmare — everything I needed for an enchanting All Hallows’ Eve was somewhere on a ship in one of the many port logjams. As a result, here are the five reasons why the supply chain is the scariest thing this Halloween:
1. Halloween shipments won’t arrive in time: Even with the White House’s recent executive order to aid supply chain disruptions, there simply isn’t enough time for these shipments to arrive by Oct. 31. You might want to dust off last year’s decorations and costumes and seriously consider putting the ‘trick’ back in trick-or-treat.
2. Labor shortages haven’t disappeared: The port of Long Beach is now operating 24/7, but labor shortages still abound across the rest of the supply chain. So, the cargo ships might get unloaded, but the U.S. needs 80,000 truckers — a record high — to keep the goods moving. And if that Squid Games-inspired costume happens to arrive at the Halloween pop-up store, will there be anyone there to sell it to you? With retail trade employment down 285,000 since February 2020, the fortune teller’s cards aren’t looking so good.
3. The supply can’t be repurposed: During most holiday seasons, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are wizards of repurposing leftover specialty items to sell in different ways. Too many red candies produced at Christmas? Repackage them for Valentine’s Day. Overestimated the Fourth of July gear? Don’t worry, Labor Day is coming up. Sadly, Halloween is a different story altogether. There’s not much else you can do with pumpkin-shaped chocolates or an animatronic chainsaw guy.
4. Consumers might stock up for next year: What happens with all the ghoulish gear when it finally does arrive? Retailers must first determine the cost of storing these items and then decide to either hold onto them for another year or immediately sell them at massive discounts. The latter is more likely, and that means many consumers might stock up now — which could lead to another nightmare for retailers during Halloween 2022.
5. This could be foreshadowing for the rest of the holiday season: If pumpkin-everything season is a glimpse into the crystal ball for the rest of the holidays, we could be in for a very bumpy ride. According to Vox’s Terry Nguyen, “almost everything people might want to purchase for the holidays seems to be vulnerable to snags in the global supply chain… so, if consumers know what they want to buy for their loved ones for the holiday season, now is a good time to act on it.”
To throw one last pun at you, not everything this Spooky Season is cursed. Some retailers understand that visibility — using data science to predict disruptions and pivot around them — is the currency of the supply chain game, so there’s a chance you might still find that Ted Lasso-inspired tracksuit and stick-on mustache. But hey, at least we’ll always have Hocus Pocus.
This blog was written by Bryant Miller, Corporate Communications, with insights from Jim Hull, Senior Industries Strategy Director at Blue Yonder.