At my neighborhood Eroski, Christmas hit the shelves even before Halloween. The tables of Christmas products landed at the beginning of October – I found them on October 11 – when Halloween-themed chocolates still did not occupy prominent positions and the inhabitants of the city were still not very clear if they should already put away their summer clothes .
Of course, the nougats and polvorones were shared – photo by – in various WhatsApp groups. “What a barbarism!”, They told me in one of them. What I did not know then, but I discovered a couple of days later, is that a low cost decoration chain that has a store in the neighborhood had already filled the establishment with Christmas products.
Giant Santa Claus, balls and tinsel are waiting for whoever wants to buy them. The Christmas ads – beyond those of the mayors at war for having the most illuminated city in Spain – have not started yet (although there are those who feel that they are already trying to sell more perfumes, a classic Christmas category). This does not mean that plans are not being made to position Christmas or to try to sell the products of the campaign now.
The nougats are the visible thing, but behind the scenes there could be much more. In some markets, such as the United States – weighed down by the logistics crisis – and the British – where the effects of Brexit are added – recommendations on social networks are quite common that if you know what to buy, buy it now.
A few weeks ago, independent bookstores in some countries insisted that they might not be able to respond to demand, because the book industry is one of those affected by the coronavirus hangover. Just as a few months ago the problem of chip supplies became evident, now the problem is in the production of paper and even in printing, which is done many times in China.
The big question is whether these effects could reach the Spanish market and marketers find themselves in similar situations. Supermarkets are full of merchandise, far from the apocalyptic images of British supermarkets from Brexit, but will the logistics and manufacturing crisis affect some of the star products of Christmas shopping?
The first signs?
The Spanish book industry is already giving alarm signals to the potential effects of the paper crisis. The price of paper has risen by 30% in one year, as published by El País , which has had an impact on the cost of books and purchase orders.
Some specific publishers already recognize problems in the year-end scheduling. Books could go up in price in 2022, because to the paper costs we must also add the rise in energy costs. And to that is added that the maritime logistics problem does not have an exception in Spain: all the products that have to leave China in containers suffer the same problems, wherever they go.
For this reason, the traffic jams in ports and the price problems of shipping containers are the same for companies in all countries. China is not the only producing country with problems. In recent weeks there have also been in Vietnam, where a lot of fashion is produced. There have been confinements there to stop the contagion of the coronavirus, which could lead to the market running out of supply due to the demand for fashion brands.
Nike has already lowered its revenue forecasts for next year, which includes – in its accounts – the Christmas campaign. Not all the Nike or Adidas products that consumers expect may arrive in stores, right at the moment when they sell the most. Even the sacrosanct toys, star products of the season, could have problems: in China there are containers full of LOL surprise trapped in ports. There are also problems with electronics, which drag the lack of chip supplies and that could hit hard the products claim star of campaigns such as Black Friday.
The first ad of the year
For all these reasons, the Christmas campaign could be starting earlier. If last year it was the marketers who pushed to buy before in order to avoid the fear of closures but also so that large masses of people did not concentrate in the establishments, now it could be the consumers themselves, eager to have the products they want.
In some markets, this even means advancing advertising campaigns. In the UK, the first Christmas ad has already aired: it was on October 1st. In other markets, although they are not apparently Christmas ads, they have already started some campaigns, such as those that try to sell discounts and increase sales during the period.
Or maybe it’s nothing (for the consumer)
Are these all the first signs of what is coming? Or maybe it is letting us panic about what is happening in other markets? The logistics industry in Spain recognizes that the situation is complicated and that they have to be reorganizing all the time how they act, but also, as they explain to Business Insider , that there will be no breakdown during Christmas.
They are already working to prevent that from happening. Many companies have advanced their purchase of products to ensure that they will have stock when the time is right. They have worked with more foresight and with a prior calendar. Perhaps, for consumers, it will be possible to hide all the tension of the network. What is clear, yes, is that marketers and other company executives have had to work longer and earlier for that to happen.