Local businesses prepared for shipping delays this holiday season

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Neve Marin Rue Galmarini

This year, there are fewer COVID-19 precautions in many businesses.

During the holiday season, stores ramp up their advertising to hook customers onto their products. This year, however, shipping delays increased the difficulty of ordering gifts online, complicating gift-giving for many. 

With 82.7 percent of Marin County’s population fully vaccinated, according to the Marin Health and Human Services, overall health precautions are more relaxed compared to last year during this time. However, COVID-19 continues to affect businesses, as it spurred an exponential increase in the popularity of online shopping. Digital Commerce 360 reports that online sales throughout the United States reached $791.70 billion in 2020, up by 32.4 percent from sales in 2019. 

Online shopping can be convenient for shoppers who desire a wide array of products at their fingertips without having to search stores in-person. During quarantine, individuals could stay safe at home while having access to the items they needed online.

This year, however, COVID-19-induced shipping delays complicated the operations of many businesses. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, cargo backlogs in Southern California impact shipping to the San Francisco Bay Area.

With these delays from COVID-19, it made gift-purchasing online more difficult for many customers. 

Shipping delays affect my business in general, not necessarily just for the holidays. So, we used to order everything for our clients anywhere from 3 to 6 months before we needed it, and now we have to order everything 8 to 12 months before we need it,”

“Normally, businesses go into the holidays with a good idea of how much merchandise they will need to get through the end of the year,” said Carol Lindorfer, local business owner of Jolt, a gift shop located in Novato and San Anselmo. “In past years, if you underestimate, you are able to order and receive ‘reorders’ quickly. This year, that will most likely not be a possibility.”

Shipping delays affect a variety of businesses, not only gift shops. Jennifer Robin is the owner and founder of Jennifer Robin Interiors, an interior design firm based in San Anselmo. As online orders take longer as a result of shopping delays, they complicate the workings of her business.“Shipping delays affect my business in general, not necessarily just for the holidays. So, we used to order everything for our clients anywhere from 3 to 6 months before we needed it, and now we have to order everything 8 to 12 months before we need it,” Robin said.

Though shipping delays create difficulties for her business, Robin prepared for them by planning her orders earlier in advance than she ordinarily would. This allowed her to more easily work around the expected delays.

“You just have to build it into your business. You have to expect the delays and plan for the holiday season. We ordered everything already that we need, so we’re on top of it,” Robin said.

Though this year’s shipping delays complicate matters for local businesses who depend on online ordering, shops continued to produce gifts for the community this holiday season.