Delivery bottlenecks at Christmas: Not every wish comes true

Status: 11/27/2021 3:30 p.m.

Worldwide delivery bottlenecks mean that the selection of gifts becomes scarcer before Christmas. With certain bicycles there are months of waiting, and some characters are hard to come by.

Bicycle dealer Raimund Gerwing sees light and shadow these days. The willingness of his customers to buy is greater than ever before. At the same time, however, it cannot fulfill all of the wishes, because many bikes are not available at all. Gerwing has been running the “Fahrradesel” business in Münster for 35 years. At that time he had never experienced such a situation. At the moment, he says, he has to plan his orders two years in advance.

Wish bike no longer for Christmas

Many manufacturers are already fully booked for the coming year, says Gerwing. For some, bicycles will no longer be available even for 2023. The bicycle dealer therefore orders models with a long lead time that he does not yet know exactly what they will look like. Despite his foresighted planning, his customers often have to wait six months for the bike of their choice.

He can give little hope to children who want a high-quality and particularly light bicycle for Christmas: “If you haven’t ordered that, it will probably not be for Christmas anymore. That would be a win in the lottery.” At the same time, Gerwing emphasizes that his business is still full of bicycles. Anyone who needs a bike at short notice will get it. However, it could happen that the model is only available in black and not in blue, for example.

Only two or three figurines a day

Things are looking a little better at the toy retailer Martina Haaf in Velbert near Düsseldorf. “On the whole it’s still okay,” she says, looking at the delivery bottlenecks in her toy store “Brummbär”. With animal figurines made of rubber, however, there is a risk of unfulfilled Christmas wishes: “Every day we get a small package with just two or three figurines.”

Haaf fears that the situation could get worse in the coming year. Nevertheless, the trader hesitates to completely fill her warehouse. Because what if there is a lockdown with shop closings before Christmas? “Then we won’t get rid of things in the New Year,” she fears.

“Worldwide logistics out of sync”

The impressions of the bicycle and toy dealers match the studies by Klaus Wohlrabe from the Ifo economic research institute. Wohlrabe’s latest surveys show that a total of more than three quarters of retailers are affected by delivery bottlenecks. The proportion is particularly high for bicycle dealers at 96 percent, and for toy dealers the rate is even 100 percent.

Empty shelves are not to be feared, says the economic researcher. However, certain electronic items could also be out of stock during the Christmas season, for example. Wohlrabe attributes the delivery bottlenecks to the Corona crisis. Production is running again in most places, but “global logistics are out of step,” he says.

Relaxation in the coming summer?

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, many companies were reluctant to order preliminary products and raw materials. Now the whole world is ordering at once, and the suppliers can no longer keep up, says the economist.

However, Wohlrabe can also give the all-clear. His survey data show that the worst problems could be over by the middle of next year. Maybe the bike of your choice will be under the Christmas tree next year.

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