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Holiday Sales Held Strong Despite Stock Challenges

By Erica Kirkland


Over half (53 percent) of independent gift store owners said that supply chain issues impacted holiday sales, yet the vast majority – 91 percent – maintained stocked shelves with much ingenuity and dogged determination. With supply chain issues the talk of the industry for well over a year, Giftbeat retailers had plenty of ‘Plan Bs’ in their back pockets.

Young woman browses a shelf full of wooden ornaments.

“When the shelves started getting empty, we simply took down those shelves and re-arranged merchandise.” - Oklahoma shop owner

“We never ‘looked’ empty, but we weren’t as full as we should have been. It was a constant move/shuffle/double display kind of year,” says a South Carolina store owner, “but our store looked full all season.”

As for categories impacted by shipping delays, the consensus was seasonal products were most affected with many orders arriving too late to put on the floor.

A young wonab picks up a patterned glass goblet from a shelf.

“Quite a bit of our seasonal Christmas product was just becoming available to ship in December and that was just too late,” says a Colorado shop owner. “Much of what we did receive came late (November) and that hurt sales also, not to mention the ocean freight surcharges.”

“It was very hard to make a full display when only 40 percent of our planned order shipped,” says a retailer from Wisconsin. “It definitely kept us on our toes! We added to displays with in-stock everyday items and moved products around frequently. Some of the items we ordered were not our ‘first choice’ but we made do with what was available to order.”

A Utah retailer says, “Seasonal product was slow to ship, but once it arrived, we sold it immediately. Some of our usual vendors, strong in past years, I avoided entirely because they could not fulfill orders.”

“I paid attention to my vendors telling me this would happen,” says an Ohio shop owner. “I shopped sales and in-stock tems to fill my store and it was always full.”

“It took some maneuvering to find other vendors to help fill some of the holes. We guesstimated we might have done another 100K in sales if everything had come in,” says a New York retailer. “We looked in every nook and cranny and brought out overstocks, duds and a lot of ‘where’d you find that?’ items. It helped to keep moving things around and changing our displays to make them fuller (or appear fuller).”

A man, surrounded by cardboard boxes, carries one away. The image of the man carrying the box is blurred and he walks away from the scene.

Moving into the New Year, store owners are more closely watching shipping and supply issues including a Minnesota store owner who says, “I’m listening more carefully to supply channel concerns instead of trusting reps.”

“Having several back-up orders in place helps to ensure a steady stream of new inventory,” says a New Mexico store owner. “Watch your inventory and stay in close contact with key vendors.”

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