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Published: Nov 12, 2021 3 min read
Laptop With Christmas Sale On Screen
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Ahead of the holiday season, a global supply chain crisis is pushing prices higher and causing shortages of everything from wine to iPhones.

Cargo ships are stuck at crowded ports—unable to unload because of bottlenecks at the dock—and a lack of truck drivers means companies are struggling to move goods across the country once they do make it off of ships. To top it all off, a retail worker shortage has made hiring seasonal employees a near-impossible task.

For consumers, there may be a silver lining in the form of big sales — if they’re willing to wait.

In a note to clients reported by MarketWatch this week, a group of analysts at BMO Capital Markets posits that shipping delays today could lead to big promotions and clearance sales down the line as retailers scramble to sell out-of-season merchandise.

“It is simply a matter of time before late product hits the floors and begins to drive up promotions,” the analysts wrote.

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Underlying the supply chain crunch is a huge surge in consumer demand, and Americans are planning on spending more money than ever this year. The National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday spending in 2021 will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to last year, as consumers return to traveling and in-person shopping with extra cash in their pockets thanks to stimulus checks and bolstered savings accounts. But that’s not to say online shopping is slowing down: The NRF expects spending in that category to grow between 11% and 15% over spending in 2020.

“Retailers have enough inventory on hand to make sure shoppers won’t go home empty-handed this holiday season,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement earlier this week. “But there are still items sitting on the docks or waiting on ships that need to make it to store shelves and online sellers’ warehouses.”

As expected, retailers like Amazon, Target and Wayfair are pushing Black Friday promotions hard, though, as Money has reported on previously, these early deals are shaping up to be pretty mediocre. In early November, electronics were discounted an average of 8.7% over the previous month, according to data from Adobe Digital Insights, compared to discounts averaging 13.2% over the same period in 2020.

If you’re willing to wait until after the holidays, the best shopping may be yet to come.

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