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Survey Indicates Most Americans Plan to Shop Early, Buy Electronics, and Seek Fast Delivery

These Behaviors Could Add Enormous Supply Chain Pressures at an Already Challenging Time

By ·
By ·

New research from Supplyframe indicates that most Americans (64%) are planning to get an early jump on holiday shopping this year in hopes of beating possible shipping or other supply chain constraints.

More than three-fourths (79%) of Americans said that they have already begun shopping or plan to do so before Black Friday. That may be at least in part because more than a third (35%) of the group said that they have personally experienced order delays in the past year for products that rely on electronics.

This new research is based on an October 2021 survey of more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older conducted by Propeller Research on behalf of Suppyframe.

“The holidays are fast approaching, but supply chain challenges are dragging on,” said Steve Flagg, CEO and founder of Supplyframe. “This season will create enormous new pressures on the supply chain as it struggles to claw out of the shortage situation created by the pandemic.”

Supply Chain Challenges Are Making Customers Increasingly Frustrated

Delayed deliveries and unavailable products are raising the ire of many customers.

More than half (52%) of the Americans surveyed said that they understand the delays, but are frustrated that they are happening. A fourth of the group (25%) said that they feel frustrated about the wait times and think that businesses should factor in delays for their purchase orders.

Just more than a fifth (22%) of the survey group said that they are comfortable waiting two weeks for purchases to be delivered. And only 10% of respondents said they are willing to wait longer than two weeks for shipping, despite widespread news coverage of supply chain issues.

Shipping Times Will Figure Heavily into Americans’ Holiday Shopping Decisions

While 43% of Americans said that they like to shop online due to fear of shopping in large crowds, even greater shares plan to shop online to get better deals online (44%), order gifts ahead of time (46%) or simply because they prefer the ease of online shopping (64%).

But while online shopping provides a wide array of benefits, supply chain challenges could result in delays in getting the holiday gifts that people buy online to their gift recipients. And Supplyframe research suggests that Americans may be shopping with those constraints in mind.

Although 62% said that “longer” shipping times have not deterred them from buying a product this year, 90% said that time will be very (44%) or somewhat (46%) important as they make decisions related to holiday gift purchases this year. And nearly a third (30%) said that they are more likely to choose the product with the quickest shipping, even if it’s not their first choice.

Inventory Issues Persist and Could Result in Far Fewer Retail Discounts on Electronics

Out-of-stock messages on U.S. e-commerce sites across all consumer products have risen 172% going into the holiday season, compared with the pre-pandemic period in January 2020, according to Adobe. And out-of-stock messages are up 360% compared with January 2019.

Half of the Supplyframe survey group who have had issues with product inventory said that they related to consumer electronics purchases. Yet more than half (55%) said that they still plan to gift electronics such as computers, smartphones and tablets this holiday season. And although 55% of respondents said that automotive availability has been an issue for them in the past year, more than a tenth (12%) reported that they plan to gift a vehicle this holiday season.

The short supply of electronic components and semiconductors – and, thus, autos and devices – could mean far fewer retail discounts on vehicles and electronics. This will also create huge pressure on supply chains to better manage constraints as consumer demand remains strong.

Current Supply Approaches Aren’t Sustainable for Electronics Manufacturers

Consumers are not optimistic that the new year will bring much improvement in terms of the supply chain shortages. Nearly half (47%) believe the shortages will continue through 2022. But the shortages are likely to last even longer. As our Supplyframe Commodity IQ fourth-quarter data has shown, electronics supply chain shortages are expected to last into the first half of 2023.

This illustrates that manufacturers’ current approach to supply chain risk management is not sustainable. Manufacturers must resolve to use available data to gain greater supply chain visibility and insight so they can make more informed decisions at the point of product design.

“Supply chain constraints have hit a level not experienced in more than 30 years,” Flagg said. “Manufacturers can’t simply ride out these challenges. To address current and future supply chain complexity, and growing customer expectations, manufacturers must transform their supply chain strategies using data intelligence. Manufacturers and distributors that aren’t already deep into digital transformation of their supply chains are already behind the curve.”


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