From last-minute shopping for your child’s must-have toy to finding that one special ingredient for your family’s holiday recipe, your shopping, and overall consumer experience, may not be what you had anticipated this year due to supply chain issues. If you’re off to a bumpy start, you’re not alone.

We recently talked with with Miami University alumnus Brian Bensman ’96, senior director of risk and compliance at Cintas, to better understand the shipping delays and disruption.

Why is this shortage occurring?

No one has escaped supply chain challenges. The unfortunate realties of the pandemic shutting down started back in January ’20 right out of China and has continued with a staggered nature that’s expanded across the globe. The supply chain shortage is happening due to a number of factors.

For example, on the supply side, due to COVID shutdowns and surge in demand, there are material supply shortages for companies to manufacture. With a high volume of products shipped, there are vessel issues on capacity/unloading, and then truck driver shortages due to many retiring.

On the demand side, many consumers received stimulus money and various other things. Early in the pandemic, people couldn’t go out so they shopped online, creating a surge in demand resulting in challenges on both supply of goods and shipping capacity to deliver.

So, should people be concerned this holiday season?

There should be a level of worry, but we shouldn’t panic. We know that there’s going to be impact. While there is a lot of uncertainty, what we can do as consumers is prepare accordingly. For instance, the two-day shipping that so many of us are used to may not be an option this year.

Can we predict when this will all end?

Right now, there is unfortunately no end date that we can confirm. Infrastructure, the capacity of drivers, consumer spending⁠— is not ending. There have been predictions of stabilizing late calendar 2022. Keep in mind, though, that we also need to factor in government actions (or inactions).

What can we take in from this experience?

Eventually the supply chain will recover. While there will be impact, there will also be lessons learned, which prompts improvements – reducing age requirements of truck drivers, advancements in technology (drone delivery), infrastructure investment (port capacity).

Also, from this experience many people are now just learning what supply chain is. Before the pandemic and resulting shortages, the average consumer probably didn’t know what supply chain was. This has given visibility of this career path and future strategic direction to someone who may have an interest in this industry.

So, if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping just yet or will be making other purchases in the near future, do not panic. The takeaway here is that we as consumers should plan accordingly and know that eventually things will normalize. As someone who lives it and breathes it every day, Brian advises that we plan ahead and try not to stress.

Want to learn more about the supply chain and how this will impact your holiday shopping? Watch our recent webinar, “Miami Presents: Happy Holidays or Bah Humbug? A Supply Chain Update,” presented by Miami University Farmer School of Business Professors Lisa M. Ellram and Monique Murfield.

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