Buying gifts earlier: the early Christmas business


Status: 25.10.2021 8:11 a.m.

The problems in the global supply chains have noticeable consequences: even two months before Christmas, some items are in short supply. Experts advise early shopping for popular gifts, but warn against panic buying.

By André Kartschall, RBB

The festival of love is only two months from now, but some articles are already in short supply. If you want certain gifts, you should buy sooner rather than later. The children’s bike under the Christmas tree – one of the classic Christmas gifts – could make children’s eyes less bright this year than in other years. Because bicycles are scarce. This is mainly due to stagnant supply chains from Asia. The problem is almost always only individual parts that are missing for final assembly in Germany. In the meantime, the range of cheap and medium-priced bicycles in particular has fallen – and prices are rising.

Andre Kartschall

Klaus Wohlrabe from the Ifo Institute carried out a representative survey among German retailers. The result: 100 percent of all bicycle dealers surveyed complain about insufficient supplies. A unique value. The rest of the trade is also affected by delivery failures of a previously unknown extent. Hardware stores, electronics and furniture dealers say they are waiting almost as often for supplies.

When to buy Christmas gifts

Since the supply situation is unlikely to improve much by the end of the year, the question arises whether customers should do their Christmas shopping sooner than usual – in order not to end up without the gifts they want. So when is the right time? “My answer would be: immediately,” says Wohlrabe without hesitation.

More than anything else, the global shortage of computer chips should make itself felt in the Christmas business. “If the gift also contains electronic components, then you should grab it quickly so that there are no nasty surprises at Christmas,” says Wohlrabe. Smartphones under the Christmas tree could therefore be a rarer sight.

Wohlrabe isn’t the only one who advises buying gifts in October. Iwona Husemann from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center also says on the subject of desired gifts: “If this is available now, you should also buy it now.” In addition, due to the scarcity, prices continue to rise. Husemann advises against panic buying and instead recommends a particularly careful approach: “The price comparison is more important than ever, both online and in the store. Often the prices in the store are not as high as expected because the retailers set their margins early on have taken into account. ”

Moon prices in online trading?

In the case of individual articles, it can already be observed that Internet retailers are vigorously turning the price screw. A stroll through the shops could be worthwhile. As in other years, there is another reason to avoid last-minute purchases, including online. Because then traditionally the supply chains to your own front door would also be confronted with overload. “The closer we get to Christmas, the sooner we should add two to three days to the delivery time,” says Husemann.

The German trade association sees the situation as a little more relaxed. Actually, there is no need to worry, only individual products could become scarce in the run-up to Christmas. “It is not to be expected that people will stand in front of empty shelves when they go shopping for Christmas,” says Stefan Genth from the HDE.

Books will last until Christmas

A clear all-clear for the Christmas business comes from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. After many publishers reported that their print orders would only be partially fulfilled, it now seems clear: supplies will last until Christmas, and customers will not notice the tense situation for the time being. How it goes after that is open, however.

Paper is now in short supply, the prices of waste paper have risen by up to 75 percent. Printers pass the price increases on to publishers. “In the long term, the situation is dramatic. At some point you would have to increase prices,” said Thomas Koch from the German Book Trade Association.

Uncertainty beyond Christmas

How things will continue for customers in the coming year is also still unclear. The prognoses differ widely. “For most products, the backlog could be reduced in the first half of 2022. For chips and semiconductors, that could last until 2023,” says Ifo expert Wohlrabe. That might mean that fewer cell phones will be given away for next Christmas.


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