Why is everything out of stock?

  • Nov 12, 2021

It all started with the toilet paper.  And once everyone had their two-year supply carefully tucked away, and the shelves were restocked, most of us thought the supply chain issues had been resolved.  So why, almost two years later, are we still having so much difficulty finding items consistently in stock?

First, while spending more time at home, we went back to hobbies and activities that we had not done for a long time.  The increased demand for products to support our new hobbies created supply issues which, for the most part, industry was able to respond to and get shelves restocked.

Then, we headed outdoors in greater numbers and the demand for outdoor equipment grew and again, stock levels dwindled and it increased demand on raw materials and components which impacted production of other items.

With each new shortage, it became harder for industry to rebound.  Labour intensive production ground almost to a halt with capacity restrictions and outbreaks.  And even once production started ramping up, there simply wasn’t enough capacity to ship everything being produced overseas.  When suppliers managed to secure cargo space, shipping costs rose dramatically.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, labour shortages created more delays.  Whether it was staff to be able to unload container ships or staff to produce, stock or sell the items once they finally arrive, getting products to end consumers became more challenging.

As consumers became more and more aware of supply chain issues, we tried to protect ourselves by buying more when things came back in stock, keeping the cycle going.

As we head into the Christmas season, whether for your PROMO or personal shopping, expect this trend to continue. According to Adobe's Digital Economy Index (DEI) which tracked over a trillion visits to retail websites in the U.S., the most out of stock categories include:

  1. Electronics
  2. Jewelry
  3. Apparel
  4. Home and Garden
  5. Pet Products

In the PROMO industry, we've been finding the majority of stock shortages to be in:

  1. Hats (yes, still, but they are starting to come back in stock but we predict toques will soon share the same fate)
  2. Cooler Bags, Insulated Lunch kits, etc.
  3. Outdoor Items (Chairs, BBQ kits, etc.)
  4. Various apparel items

The good news is that with hundreds of suppliers and thousands of products at our disposal, we have become quite adept at finding the same or similar products through other suppliers.  We can also suggest new ideas that you may not have considered.  The last couple of years have helped us become more agile and adaptable to change and we can use those skills to help you!

So, what’s the moral of the story?  Be patient with sales staff everywhere (trust me, they wish they had that item in stock), be flexible and start early this year.  And, most of all, when you do find stock, act quickly.  We've learned that sometimes, even a 24 hour delay in approving a quote can mean that stock is gone and we're back to square one.


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