NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Businesshala) – If your kids’ hearts are set on a particular toy this holiday season, a word of warning: It couldn’t be easier to walk into the store and break it off the shelf.
Instead, you may find yourself smack in the middle of supply chain hell.
In many ways, 2021 is a perfect logistical storm, says Julie Lenet, US toy industry advisor at NPD Group.
“It has to do with the shutdown in China due to COVID, shipping costs going up incredibly, the port of LA back up, and a shortage of trucks and drivers,” explains Lenet.
On top of everything, there is also high consumer demand. Toy sales were up 18% during August last year. This year’s sales are up another 18%, and that momentum is expected to continue through the end of the year, Lenet says.
“There’s been an incredible increase in consumer demand,” says Ed Desmond, executive vice president of trade group The Toy Association. “People have been in their homes for a year and a half, and that has affected all kinds of consumer products, including toys.”
Supply-chain challenges around the world don’t mean you’re out of options. But the situation requires that you be more strategic and thoughtful about holiday planning than in previous years.
Here are five tips from experts:
stock up now
It may seem silly to start shopping for an event months away, but that’s exactly what you should do.
“Many people wait until the holiday season, but there’s actually a good supply on the shelves right now,” Desmond says. “If you’re in the store for other reasons, like shopping behind school, and you see something you like, pick it up now.”
Consider Toy Popularity
Every year there are some such toys which catch fire in the imagination of children. If what you’re looking for falls into that category, be proactive.
For example, according to The NPD Group, nine of the top 10 fastest-selling new toys are either trading cards (football and baseball) or building sets. In other words, if your child wants a Lego set for Boba Fett’s ship from the Star Wars character universe — #6 on NPD’s list — start shopping.
Use Multiple Money-Saving Strategies
An in-demand product means it will be challenging – but not necessarily impossible – to find attractive discounts this year. Consumer finance expert Andrea Voroch suggests sites that monitor price drops, such as Honey, whose “droplist” notifies you when there are discounts on target items.
Be on the lookout for retailer coupons, such as through the browser extension Cently, which will automatically search for applicable coupons and apply those codes at checkout.
You can get additional discounts when you purchase from a retailer for the first time or by subscribing to their e-mail list. You can even get savings after the fact; Some retailers will refund the difference if the price drops shortly after your purchase.
expand your search
Most consumers have a “go-to” site for many purchases, such as Amazon, and search no further. In 2021, you may have to deepen your pool of retailers: Just because something’s unavailable at one doesn’t mean it’s out of stock in the other.
Google Shopping, Voroch suggests, is a useful tool for surveying a wide range of retailers for a single item.
Another tip from Woroch: If an item is extremely popular and happens to be available locally, choose the “curbside pickup” option. An online order can always be canceled by retailers if they expire, so take advantage and pick it up yourself.
expand your list
If you’re fixated on a wanted item, you’ve essentially locked yourself in a corner. Whereas if you have multiple possibilities, you have increased your chances of getting at least a few on the list.
This can be a good time to manage expectations, and encourage kids to ask Santa for a few different gifts that they’ll be equally happy with.
“If they want something very specific, you may have to turn them in a different direction,” says Lenet. “Or you may not get that exact product, but something close.”