Industries strain to adjust under supply woes due to pandemic

That favourite toy or vehicle you want, just might not be there when you show up

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Better shop early this year.

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Everyone from toymakers to automakers are warning of continued strain on global supply chains that could make holiday shopping more stressful this year.

“Items will sell out faster than usual and it will take longer to replenish them than usual,” said Andrew Wagar, of the Canadian Toy Association.

“There will be toys on the shelf throughout the holiday season for you to purchase,” he reassures, but added that popular toys could sell out faster.

“This is not a Canada issue. This is a global issue facing all industries and all people everywhere.”

Supply chains have been disrupted by months of pandemic lockdowns, limitations, slowdowns and sudden surges in demand.

“Don’t leave it to the last minute. Shop early. You should expect delays,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, of the Retail Council of Canada.

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She said a rapid rise in shipping costs is just one aspect of the problem.

“The challenges are very real,” Wasylyshen said, adding the hope is that things stabilize some time in 2022.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is monitoring the “disruptions.”

“The supply chain hasn’t been destroyed but it’s definitely under strain,” said Mark Agnew, of the Chamber of Commerce. “The cost of shipping containers has increased anywhere from 500 to 800% over the last year-and-a-half.”

Some of that increase is reflected in the high inflation Canadians have been living with for months.

Vehicle sales and production are especially affected.

The global shortage of computer chips is also disrupting production of vehicles — an industry Ontario heavily relies on.

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“The auto industry is particularly hard hit by this, just given the volume of chips that are used in vehicles,” said Brian Kingston, of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

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Due to difficulty in securing chips, “we are looking at potential three million vehicles not being built in North America alone,” he said, adding much of the blame lies with unpredictable pandemic demand.

“There was a very quick rebound combined with a huge surge in demand from consumers for things like TVs and playstations because everybody was home and in lockdown,” Kingston explained.

Fewer of those chips are being made at time when demand for them is up.

And it’s sending a ripple around the world all the way to your local mall.

“This isn’t a situation where shelves are going to be empty,” said Wagar, of the Toy Manufacturers.

But his advice is to be first at the store this year.

slaurie@postmedia.com

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