Christmas in October

Mike Zaccardi

THE HOLIDAYS ARE almost here, but supply-chain bottlenecks and order backlogs continue to wreak havoc with the economy. Forget stocking up on Halloween candy. Instead, you might want to focus on buying the latest hot Christmas toys for your kids—right now.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management put out a research piece last week detailing the logistical nightmare gripping global markets. Its charts reveal a skyrocketing number of anchored containerships near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to unload. Shipping rates are surging. Delivery times are growing. If you’re remodeling your kitchen or waiting on a new car, you probably already know about these problems firsthand—delay after frustrating delay.

The hope was that the disruptions and inflation spikes would be temporary—or “transitory,” as the Federal Reserve is wont to say. Yet here we are in the final quarter of the year, and the supply crunch and retail price spikes seem worse than ever. J.P. Morgan’s analysts are optimistic about next year. But this year, we may feel like the Grinch stole Christmas.

What should we do? I hate to drum up the toilet paper analogy, but buying gifts early and stockpiling them in your basement could be the wise play. Consider that households remain flush with cash. Online ordering is easier than ever. Retail sales will likely hit new records through the end of the year. There might not be much left on the shelves come Super Saturday—and perhaps not even on Black Friday.

Purchasing a Christmas tree before your Thanksgiving turkey could also be a prudent play. The American Christmas Tree Association expects higher prices, and suggests securing your tree early.

While we should be prepared for delays and higher prices this holiday season, let’s still remember to be merry. That’s free, after all.

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