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When do you begin planning your Christmas shopping? Donna Bradbury, a 38-year-old mum of three from Lincolnshire, says you can never start too early. “I like to write my list of who I’m buying for in April and start chipping away at the items as and when the things I want go on offer,” says Donna. “The youngest of our three sons, Oliver, is two, so I buy him books from The Works that are sometimes 10 for £10 and discounted toys I know he’ll love. I get favourite wines and chocolates for certain family at supermarkets. Picking up bits and pieces earlier in the year helps spread the cost of Christmas, too.”

Starting sooner rather than later could serve shoppers well due to the recent supply chain crisis, which means getting hold of certain items could prove tricky. While it’s a smart move to get going on your shopping, it’s also important to keep a handle on your spending. Research by MoneySuperMarket reveals people intend to spend 21% Link opens in a new window more on Christmas than they did last year. A separate study showed that many families, especially those with children under 18, are planning to spend beyond their means. Over a third of parents – that’s 4.5million people - are set to spend over £300 on each child.

There’s no time like the present when it comes to getting a head start on your Christmas shopping. As well as helping to spread the cost and prevent panic buying, which racks up stress levels as well as credit card bills, current issues with supply chains is another good reason to start placing orders sooner rather than later.

Also, Helen Dickinson, Head of the British Retail Consortium Link opens in a new window (BRC), says prices are set to increase. “We surveyed CEOs and three-fifths said they were going to have to increase prices by the end of the year. Ten percent said they already have. It is sadly a reality when businesses are seeing every single cost, energy, wages, other things, all rising at the same time.”

What are the five main sectors likely to be affected by the current supply shortages?

Toys

Over recent months, there has been supply chain disruption resulting in delayed deliveries, increased prices and, in some cases, gaps on retailer’s shelves. A major UK toy retailer last month warned that delays at UK ports will result in shortages this Christmas, because it will be harder to get stock to the right places at the right time. According to the BBC, Barbie dolls and Paw Patrol toys are among the toys that the firm expects to sell out fast.

Electronics

As Black Friday approaches - on 26 November - retailers are already boasting about their discounts. If you’ve got electronics on your list, it can be tempting to wait until Cyber Monday (28 November). Yet with the escalating supply chain issues, you might not want to wait that long in case availability becomes an issue. Gifts that involve cutting-edge technology run a real risk of being in short supply thanks to the computer chip shortage that is hampering car supplies. Video gamers’ gear has already been impacted with Sony’s PlayStation 5 Console especially hard to get hold of. Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden recently posted an interesting point on social media. She tweeted Link opens in a new window on the topic of Black Friday: “…Sales should be about surplus stock and with current supply issues, there will be shortages not surpluses.”

Christmas Food

Farmers have been warning of a Christmas turkey shortage Link opens in a new window this year due to visa changes that allow labour recruitment from abroad coming in to late, but it’s a mixed picture so don’t panic. According to Edinburgh Live, when asked about potential Christmas shortages an M&S spokesperson said: "M&S has deep and longstanding partnerships with our M&S Select Farms and whilst there are well-publicised challenges, we currently remain confident that we will have a full supply of turkeys this Christmas." Also, Christmas party classics such as pigs in blankets could be in danger. According to The Times Link opens in a new window, The British Meat Processors Association is short of 15,000 workers and says, “We’ve been managing to keep food supplies rolling, day to day, but we really should have been producing Christmas food from about June or July onwards this year and so far we haven’t been, so there’ll be shortages of party foods and things like pigs in blankets.”

Footwear

Nike announced two months ago that production and delivery of its shoes would be impacted until Spring 2022 Link opens in a new window due to product shortages and shipping issues. Also, CEO of M&S Steve Rowe has reassured customers that although they aren’t expecting many stock shortages this Christmas, they’ve already started to see a short supply of slippers Link opens in a new window. So, it might be worth moving fast before you get cold feet – literally.

Wine

Network Rail is saving the day from a dreaded dry Christmas. According to The Times Link opens in a new window, due to the UK having a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers, Network Rail is laying on extra freight trains to bring the much loved imported wine that would usually be picked up by HGV drivers to our local supermarkets. Network Rail is putting on a weekly “wine train” to transport 4.5 million bottles of imported wine to supermarkets before Christmas day. Sip sip hooray.

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