Supply Chain Disruptions Expected to Impact Office Supplies, Clothing and Other Back-to-School Necessities
Supply chain woes and a labor shortage are contributing to rising inflation that the Federal Resolve is hard-pressed to halt, the Wall Street Journal reports. The shortages are expected to hit many consumers squarely in their bank accounts, expecially for necessary back-to-school items.
“It turns out it’s a heck of a lot easier to create demand than it is to — you know, to bring supply back up to snuff,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week. The Fed is hesitating to take action to curb inflation, but economists are predicting that demand will continue to outpace supply through the end of 2021, and potentially into 2022, WSJ said.
Manufacturing rose just 0.9% in May, following a 0.1% drop in April. Overall industrial output, WSJ reported, remains 1.4% lower than pre-pandemic numbers. Even if manufacturing begins to ramp up, factories will have to catch up from a backlog of orders and restock shelves before supply and demand will reach an appropriate balance.
The Commerce Department showed a retail inventory to sales ratio of just 1.1 in March 2021, down from 1.67 during the height of the pandemic last year.
From Chips to School Supplies: Shortages Abound
The widely reported computer chip shortage, which is just starting to affect consumer products, is just the beginning. Experts predict that shortages of household goods and school supplies could affect U.S. consumers throughout the fall.
“Even in the best-case scenario this is not going to be over in less than 12 months,” Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies LLC, told WSJ. She noted that shortages could impact back-to-school shopping as well.
“There’s a very good chance that you’re going to have severe product shortages by September.”
As a result of these economist predictions and the results of their own analysis, Fed officials predicted inflation to rise by 3.4%, versus the 2.4% forecast they made in March.
Preparing for a Future of Supply-Chain Woes
The pandemic showed that hoarding is not the answer, as it leads to greater shortages and widespread panic, which can affect people’s mental health. Instead, consumers concerned about rampant inflation and product shortages may want to buy moderate amounts of necessary items, such as pencils, crayons and notebooks for school, when they see them in stock at a reasonable price.
Parents should be prepared to miss out on the usual back-to-school sales that start showing up in stores like Walmart, Target and Staples as early as July or August. Instead, expect to spend a bit more on educational necessities this year and pick items up as they become available in stores or through online retailers.
Likewise, it may be smart to plan a low-key holiday season, where you celebrate with gatherings over gifts. Many families couldn’t spend the holidays with their loved ones in 2020. In 2021, you may not be able to find the perfect gift for every loved one, but you can gift your friends and family with your presence. Consider exchanging home-made presents, perhaps showcasing some of the crafting or baking skills many people acquired during the pandemic.
If you are planning gift exchanges, consider starting your shopping now and picking up items as you see them to tuck away for December. Amazon Prime Days and Target and Walmart’s Deals for Days sales, which are all going on now, may offer great opportunities to pick up gifts at a bargain.
Consider Local Sources for Clothing and Household Goods
Parents trying to save money on school shopping might connect with other families in their neighborhood and suggest clothing and backpack swaps. Local buy-sell-trade groups on Facebook may also present a cost-effective way to beat supply chain woes and find the necessities your family needs at a reasonable cost.
You can also sell your own used items, especially clothes and toys your children have outgrown, in the Facebook marketplace to help others seeking hard-to-find items. These steps may help reduce some of the strain on retail demand and our nation’s supply chains, while helping you bolster your savings account for increased financial security.
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