It might be the start of September, but economists, manufacturers, and retailers are all already looking ahead toward Christmas.
And they don’t like what they see.
A new report in the Washington Post predicts that the nation’s first holiday season under President Joe Biden’s economic policies will be one that only the Grinch could love.
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“I’m afraid there is simply not enough time to get products on the shelf this year,” Isaac Larian, chief executive of toymaker MGA Entertainment, told the Washington Post.
His company makes must-have toys such Rainbow High, L.O.L. Surprise, and Little Tikes – toys that will be on wish lists around the country.
But it would take a genuine Christmas miracle to fill many of them.
“The holidays are going to be very tough and, frankly, a lot of families are not going to be able to get the toys they want,” he told the newspaper.
It’s not just toys, either.
The economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic… the lack of available workers as many continue to collect enhanced unemployment until this month… and massive supply chain shortages in everything from microchips to shipping containers have led to empty shelves and higher prices.
Bloomberg says European factories have an “unprecedented” number of unfilled orders, while activity at Chinese factories shrank in August for the first time since April 2020, when pretty much the entire world shut down due to the coronavirus.
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The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index plunged by 13.4 percent from July to August, one of the six biggest drops on record over more than 40 years.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the producer price index jumped by 7.8 percent over the previous 12 months, the highest increase ever.
And if that’s not enough, two economists with the Federal Reserve believe we’re about to hit a surge in rent inflation. Not just a short post-pandemic jump, but an acceleration in the cost of housing that could continue for years, according to Barron’s.
Consumers are already blaming Biden.
In a Fox News poll released last month, 79 percent blamed Biden for the nation’s economic struggles, with 70 percent saying it’s in bad shape and 86 percent worried about inflation.
Even higher-earning Americans said they were struggling, with 50 percent of those who make more than $100,000 a year saying they were having a hard time with the price jumps.
The Biden administration has insisted the inflation is temporary, but so far it’s shown no sign of easing.
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Biden has also fired off a series of executive orders meant to “strengthen American supply chains to promote economic security, national security, and good-paying, union jobs here at home.”
As the latest data shows, those actions haven’t paid off as goods remain in short supply.
With those Christmas shipments looming, he’s named a special envoy to handle clogged U.S. ports.
But it might be too late to save the holiday: Shipping times have doubled and have now reached 90 days for goods sent by sea.
That means an item leaving a factory in China or Europe right now may not arrive in a U.S. port until early December.
Getting them off the ships… onto trucks… into stores… and into homes… will take even longer, with everyone from trucking firms to shipping companies looking at lingering labor shortages.
In other words, an item from an overseas factory that leaves port today may not reach consumers until well after Christmas.
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“We’ve been spoiled as a country, expecting that packages will arrive on our doorsteps within two days,” Robert Gerwig, senior vice president of distribution and logistics at Sweetwater, which sells musical instruments and audio technology, told the Washington Post. “But with every carrier squeezed for capacity, that is no longer the case.”
And that could lead not only to a very un-merry Christmas… but to problems that can drag well into 2022 and beyond.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.