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Can you beat the shipping gridlock and supply retailers in time for Christmas?


Delays at ports, supply problems, rising costs… it’s clear retailers will have to pick their way carefully to a successful selling season this Christmas. But, as a supplier, are you one of the few that is overcoming the challenges of the fractured supply chain? Why not tell potential customers of your ability to provide inventory right now by sending a message via Angling International.

How are shoppers going to behave this Christmas? That’s the question being asked by the retail tackle trade as the holiday season gets into full swing. October through to early January would normally be a time when retailers make hay as Christmas consumers crowd the stores in search of gifts for fishing family and friends. But this year could be anything but normal after the ravages of the pandemic have broken supply chains around the world and left many shops short of product.

Of course, certain brands, either thanks to smart planning or by managing their own factories, find themselves in a powerful position. Do you count yourself among them? Are you able to meet the demands of retailers you might not ordinarily supply? It could pay to alert them to your capabilities – and directly via the digital platforms of Angling International. Find out more here.

If they can not rely on regular suppliers or find new ones, shops could find themselves facing a raging demand they cannot meet. Long delays at ports, a shortage of overland drivers and loaders, along with soaring transport costs, have already caused serious stock issues – while increased demand over the festive season can only exacerbate the problem, promoting fear of late deliveries and empty shelves. Retail giants including Walmart, Costco and Ikea have chartered their own container ships, while Home Depot is flying merchandise directly to the US to ensure goods arrive on time for Christmas spenders.

Coupled with a dramatic acceleration in online purchasing, plus other shifts in shopping behaviours and signs that the participation boom is waning in some countries, there is a lingering uncertainty among shop owners that makes the prospects for the season anything but clear.

But, it is not all gloom and doom. Holiday shopping has been starting earlier for some years and was further accelerated by last year’s pandemic-driven shift of Amazon Prime days to October. Add in the current inventory concerns, and a longer buying period seems likely, with hot items going quickly. A recent survey by the NPD Group, one of the world’s largest market research companies, revealed that 51% of US consumers plan to start holiday shopping before November 25th (Thanksgiving Day). Of those, two thirds planned to start buying in October or sooner. The likelihood is that the same could happen in other countries. “The early shopping trends will continue this year, with the added layer of inventory concerns motivating many shoppers to grab what they want when they see it, instead of waiting for better deals later in the season,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for the NPD Group, one of the world’s largest market research companies.

Agathe Boidin (right), Chairman and CEO of Pacific Pêche, which has more than 40 stores in France, believes that supply delays will put shops in a good position. “We have suffered a supply chain problem during this season and have been focused on our orders for next season. We are only now receiving product that we were supposed to receive in March. So actually our stock levels for low season are quite good and we anticipate good sales for Christmas. Also, people will probably start shopping earlier than normal. The main impact in the long term is the increase in purchasing prices and the freight costs, which will impact on our retail price and profitability. People will shop online as they did during COVID, but they will also go back to stores. The situation in France at the moment is that COVID is under control.”

Paul Devlin (left), owner and Managing Director of Glasgow Angling Centre, one of Europe’s biggest retailers, believes that those stores able to adapt to the current situation will do well. That means sourcing alternative products for those out of stock, he says. “We are selling more tackle than we have ever sold, we have loads of new customers and there is plenty of stock to be had. Okay, it might not be the exact product that you usually sell, but there are plenty of alternatives and that is what we have been doing for the last year or more, just switching to other products/brands when the usual choice is out of stock. And we have still been selling more. There might be some shortages on certain brands, but there are always substitute products. We all just have to work a bit harder to find the best ones and maybe do a bit more selling to the customer when the easy sellers are not available.”

Devlin believes that online sales will make a big impact over the festive period. “It’s most definitely a growing trend. A lot of people were forced into it during the lockdowns and a lot of them liked it. Many of these new online buyers will continue to shop in this way.” Christmas shopping will also start earlier, he says. “The media started the panic buying by saying there will be shortages of this and that. Customers will start earlier this year to make sure they get what they want.”

Cohen agrees, saying that brick and mortar store sales will be ‘somewhat’ muted by the growth of online shopping. Although consumers clearly feel less concerned about COVID in most countries, most expect the 2021 holiday season to be more like last year than pre-pandemic 2019.

Angling Direct is the UK’s biggest retailer with 38 stores and is investing heavily in a rapidly-growing online sales operation in Europe. But, says Commercial Director Simon Morris (right), the booming business is not immune to the effects of global supply chain disruption. “We continue to monitor the situation closely. We believe we can reduce the impact on our customers by working closely with suppliers to ensure that together we plan well ahead in order to provide the very best offer we can,” he explained.

“We remain very confident in the long-term future for the fishing industry. It’s important retailers and suppliers plan well, and are confident and flexible enough to react to any short-term issues by ensuring ranges are broad enough to offer alternatives so that customers can get out on the bank.

“It’s difficult to predict when this year’s shopping will start in earnest, but we’re ready to welcome customers whenever they choose. Our focus now is on making sure we get next year’s season off to a great start! We’re really pleased to see customers coming back to our stores now on a regular basis. More and more however are now regularly shopping online as well as in store, but we believe our stores will always play a vital role in ensuring customers get the advice, support, and inspiration they need.”

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