2021: The Year We Learned About the Supply Chain

Whether you’re reading the New York Times, watching The Today Show, or following a small business on Instagram –– you know by now, that supply chain disruptions are a major issue this year. There’s no pasta sauce on the shelves, you had to “pre-order” your freaking robe, and your new fridge is coming July… 2022.

Now a regular part of our shared pandemic lexicon, disruptions to the supply chain began when factories in China suddenly shut down nearly two years ago.

The supply chain has yet to be––and might never be–– the same as it was before.

And it certainly isn’t going to be normal in time for the holidays this year. (In case you missed it: supply chain refers to the network of manufacturers, suppliers, and transporters that get products from creation into your hands).

While consumer spending has continued to rise and portions of the economy have reopened, ecommerce gains––and the associated shipping needs––remain at record level.

”Consider this: during the 2020 holiday season, there were 7.2 million packages beyond what the entire U.S delivery system could handle every single day.”

If last year is a harbinger of things for this year’s peak shopping season, we can assume that delays are going to start poorly and escalate quickly.

Every single business is feeling the pain, but small businesses are being hit the hardest, given they often lack the buying power and leverage big businesses have to demand products, order in bulk, and secure shipping alternatives.

For the small business that has managed, against all odds, to stay open through the pandemic, they rely heavily on the holiday season. 20-30% of their annual revenue typically comes in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And this year, out-of-stock messages online are expected to be up 172% compared to last year. If there aren’t products on the shelf to sell or those products aren’t going to ship in time for the holidays, how will small businesses survive this “brutal” season?

As the holiday season quickly approaches, we’re each faced with a choice:

Do we…

Order gifts for our loved ones from megaretailers who by means of enormous wealth have managed to overcome the disruptions? (Yes, big businesses are actually booking their own pricey, private shipping container boats).

Sure, we might feel kinda guilty given that our decision means handing over more of our hard earned money to a few billionaires who got 62% richer during the pandemic, but also our gift is more likely to get here on time… so???


Do we…

Make the active choice to shop small, opting instead to buy gifts from small businesses who against all odds, and despite the pandemic’s negative affect on small business, have persisted?

Do we support the people behind the small business URLs? The ones who do a happy dance every time an order comes through? The ones who create two-thirds of net new jobs and donate 250% more to non-profits and community organizations than large businesses? Do we decide, once and for all, that we’re all in this together?

We get it. Breaking up with mega-retailers sounds difficult, but we promise small businesses are worth it.

To make things a little easier, here are a few simple ways to support small businesses this holiday season:

1. Extend extra empathy and grace to small business owners. (We can all agree: the supply chain sucks).

2. Start your holiday shopping extra early this year and when you can’t (or maybe just forgot), send a card gift! In the chance the incredible gift you bought isn’t going to reach its recipient in time, send a card gift and let your giftee know an awesome small business delivery is on its way to them.

3. Put your name on the waitlist for items from your favorite small businesses.

4. Manage expectations and practice patience (as both a gift giver and recipient) for how quickly the “perfect gift” will arrive this holiday season.


the goodbuy team