With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many people are preparing for the holiday season and planning for the extra spending that comes with gift giving.
Budgeting for who gets what and how hard that will hit the wallet is stressful enough, but this year shoppers are facing an additional hurdle to getting Christmas presents under the tree by Dec. 25 – the supply chain crisis.
There are a few extra steps Fort Campbell residents can take to not only ensure they don’t stretch themselves too thin financially, but also to avoid the disappointment of gifts that don’t arrive on time.
The transportation bottleneck
COVID-19 restrictions placed an extra burden on an already struggling supply chain that ultimately led to the import bottleneck that consumers are experiencing now in the form of empty store shelves, higher prices and shipping delays. Those who watch the news may remember the long line of cargo ships stretching into the waters off the coast of California when ports and docks became overcrowded because of a reduced ability to process incoming shipments.
The crisis came on the tail end of measures taken to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to keep people safe, which led to reduced working hours and ultimately fewer staff. The result was a labor shortage in factory workers and truck drivers, the positions that are essential to the timely delivery of packages.
This year if Fort Campbell Families plan to rely on ShopMyExchange.com or other online retail stores for gifts, they’d better start ordering now rather than later, said Brett Ives, personal financial readiness specialist, Army Community Service-Financial Readiness Program.
“Short supply will mean higher prices on products,” Ives said. “If they are even available before the holidays people should consider ordering them now and to expect delays in shipping.”
Shopping at the Exchange could reduce the potential for delays, said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, the Army & Air Force Exchange senior enlisted adviser, in a released statement.
“Warfighters and their Families should shop now to ensure they get all the items on their lists in time for the holidays,” Osby said. “Whether in store or at ShopMyExchange.com, shopping the Exchange early gives the military community access to tax-free shopping and military-exclusive pricing while also helping to avoid the delays facing consumers this year.”
Aside from shopping early, Ives said Fort Campbell Families are in a good position to save on Christmas shopping through the Exchange and should take advantage of tax-free purchases and price matching.
“The Exchange retail stores will match a local competitor’s current price on any identical stock assortment item for the customer who makes the price challenge, [and there is a] 14-day price guarantee on any item originally purchased from the Exchange and subsequently sold at a lower price by the Exchange, or any local competitor,” he said.
Ives also suggests exercising discipline when it comes to buying gifts, and to avoid the temptation to buying impulsively.
Once a list is made and finalized, stick to it, he said, and try not to deviate from it, no matter how tempting.
“No unnecessary or unplanned extras should be bought on impulse,” Ives said. “One method to prevent overspending is to only bring cash when you shop so you aren’t enticed to swipe a debit or credit card. And avoid signing up for store-provided credit cards since the interest rates are typically very high.”