With the return of in-person teaching, demand for school supplies is back in vogue. If parents already experienced shortages before during regular school years, this year should pose even bigger problems. So parents, don't celebrate just yet.
Incoming School Supply Shortage
Parents of school children already know the hassle of shopping for school supplies before classes start. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects parents to spend $850 on average for the entire family’s supply of school items.
With a majority of Americans buying school supplies at the same time, the industry often encounters shortages from mid-July until the end of August. Now, they should brace themselves for bigger shortages with the recent disruption in the supply chain.
Tight inventory levels and delayed shipments will make things worse for supplies. Combined, these two factors will dent retailers’ ability to replenish their products in time for the school opening this fall.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalRetail Data, warns parents to keep their expectations in check. “What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back-to-school period.
Some consumers will inevitably miss out on the things they want to purchase,” he added. Items most likely to sell out immediately include backpacks, stationery, sports equipment, laptops, and tablets.
Don’t Expect Sale Items Or Bargains
With tighter supplies, buyers shouldn’t expect sales promos or bargains as well. “Discounts will be far less generous both because of less stock and cost inflation. Consumers have to be savvy in some areas and buy products quickly,” Saunders said.
Meanwhile, Panjiva, S&P Global supply chain research unit, said clothing, kids' shoes, and backpack supplies will remain tight. Imports for these products are up compared to last year, but they still lag behind 2019 levels. This is despite government stimulus and consumer pent-up demand.
In addition, the clothing retail industry will soon experience another slowdown in manufacturing. The delta variant of coronavirus is sweeping the globe and forcing companies and local governments to institute shutdowns.
Footwear Companies Might Run Out Of Shoes Due To Delta Surge
In addition, Panjiva said that Nike might run out of stock soon, as Vietnam is dealing with the resurgent virus. At this point, two Nike suppliers already shut down production. Sneakers are one of the most sought-after items for back-to-school supplies.
However, Nike remains confident they can outpace the resurgence. In an email statement, the athletic apparel company said that it remains “confident in [its] ability to navigate these near-term dynamics”. The company also said they “remain prudent in our planning”. In addition, Nike said that they will continue prioritizing the health and safety of their workers and suppliers.
Hit The Stores Earlier
Shoppers appear to take notice of impending shortages in school supplies. Many parents, flush with stimulus money and improved savings, are hitting the stores earlier than scheduled. Rod Sides, Deloitte vice-chairman, and US retail lead said sales are up earlier.
Sides said that 59% of parents want their shopping done by the end of July. This is 14% higher compared to last year. Devices will also play a bigger role in family spending. Sides said 50% of families showed concern about stockouts for tech items.
He cited results from Deloitte's 2021 back-to-school survey that polled 1,200 parents from May 27 to June 5. Respondents should have at least one child attending school in grades K-12 this school year.
Watch the Wendover Productions video on why there are now so many shortages (It's not COVID):
Parents of school children, have you completed your school supplies shopping yet? Did you experience stock shortages in your area? Or, are you confident you can get all your items bought and available by September?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.