Shipping and US customs issues on growing list of holiday concerns

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tony Hernandez worries holiday shoppers won’t be prepared for the supply chain problems that may hit stores this holiday season

Retailers have been warned by California’s largest trade group to be prepared for an influx of online shoppers this holiday season.

Tony Hernandez, president of the California Retailers Association, told a conference earlier this month that brick-and-mortar shops could face several supply chain issues over the next 12 months.

He suggested shoppers do more shopping ahead of time to buy basics, such as coffee and water, rather than stocking up on the latest tech.

“A lot of people in our industry, they are surprised how much supply chain has changed,” Mr Hernandez said.

“There are a lot of gaps in the pipeline.”

One example? Large TVs and washing machines are popular gift items in the pre-Christmas season, he said, but inventories won’t last once Boxing Day rolls around.

“You’ll only find those on shelves,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hacked online accounts mean a clean slate for fraudulent purchases

This could affect how many shoppers purchase products such as washing machines and TVs, but also other items like luggage and other necessities.

What is the supply chain issue that you’ve noticed in your own business?

That difference in consumer taste or needs between December and April can affect the number of items a store carries, as well as how they are displayed or assembled.

Experts have attributed this shift to the surge in online shopping.

Large tech companies have long been careful to design products so that they fit into a range of colour schemes, and could potentially feature a basic formula for washing machines, for example.

But the number of manufacturers and retailers selling televisions and washing machines – combined with the lack of oversight – has led to flaws in a lot of products, Mr Hernandez said.

‘It’s not just white stuff that can go wrong’

Sometimes, hackers can target online accounts, stealing the information of their users’ friends and family, and then use it to purchase items from popular retailers.

“It’s not just white stuff that can go wrong,” he warned.

However, online shoppers who are willing to take a risk are in for a long wait, Mr Hernandez said.

This is due to ongoing issues with shipping and customs.

In the past, it would typically take two to four weeks for shipping service giants such as Amazon to deliver a shipment to a customer’s door, Mr Hernandez said.

Over the past year, that waiting period has risen to 10 to 15 days, he said.

Whether such issues will make it on to any TV shows remains to be seen.

“It can’t be included in a commercial,” he joked.

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