November 5, 2021

Panic Buying

Panic Buying

Ready or not, the annual frenzy that is holiday gift-giving season is here. Hanukkah begins extra early this year (during Thanksgiving weekend), with Christmas following right behind. Retailers started promoting “early” Black Friday sales ahead of Halloween.

There’s even more urgency than usual this year, thanks to the perfect storm of supply-chain disruptions, chip shortages and shipping delays. Retailers are sounding the alarm, and parents and grandparents are responding. It seems that Amazon has opened one of their famed “last mile” locations at my front door. Toy stores have already reported “panic buying,” and Parade magazine just published a list of the popular toys and gifts that are already hard to find: the Magic Mixes Magical Misting Cauldron, Lego Super Mario Adventures and the Microsoft Xbox, to name a few. Not to mention iPads, laptops, game consoles and the like. Attention last-minute shoppers! (you know who you are): even Amazon Same-Day delivery may not be able to help you this year.

It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, given the cargo backup clogging world ports and the dire shortage of long-haul truck drivers, not to mention certain fluke developments. Just last week, a cargo ship lost more than 100 containers in choppy seas off the coast of British Columbia. Authorities are now clearing the beaches of all kinds of merchandise lost at sea, including 71 refrigerators so far. Who knows what else is floating around out there in the ocean? Hopefully not any Magical Misting Cauldrons.

Shortages—even of toys—are a shock to the nervous system for us Americans. We’re congenitally accustomed to—and spoiled by—great abundance and instant gratification. COVID notwithstanding, we’re used to pressing a button and having anything we want delivered to our door, often the same day. No wonder there’s a whole niche industry built around helping people declutter their homes and haul away the junk in their garages. That said, COVID has certainly done a lot to bring our expectations more into line with reality (still hoarding toilet paper?).

Of course, children don’t see things that way when the holidays come around. Parents may have to turn to sophisticated inventory tracking tools to find the hot items their kids have been seeing on TV and YouTube ads for the past few months—a trend the WSJ says has already started. Maybe some will turn to smaller brands, which could give a boost to middle-market manufacturing companies in the space.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

On another note, Marcum’s annual Elevate 2021 conference series is underway. This program of more than a dozen presentations in two tracks is packed with insights for business executives and financial professionals. And Marcum’s virtual Year-End Tax Forum is coming up on Dec. 1 from 3-5 pm ET. Richard Rubin, the U.S. tax policy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, will be our keynoter this year – don’t miss it! And be sure to check our website for future events. When it comes to taxes and accounting, you can’t be too prepared.