DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Supply chain problems have been of concern since issues associated with the pandemic, including worker shortages and a variety of other factors, have caused difficulties in businesses receiving certain items. As many Americans are preparing to make additional purchases with the holiday season approaching, Dr. Michael Kellar, associate professor of supply chain management at Wright State University, said shoppers should be prepared because those issues aren’t going away.

“It’s like a perfect storm,” he said. “You have a changing in the supply demands and you have the pandemic and worker shortages, and all of that has combined at the same time.”

Those things, he said, may lead to difficulties in consumers finding specific items that they may want or need ahead of the holidays. He said he predicts this will most heavily impact gift items.

“I was talking to someone yesterday [whose] family owns a large retail chain, and he was saying that Christmas items or seasonal items probably will not be affected very much because they plan on these things a year in advance and they saw this coming and so they stocked up,” said Kellar. “But other items that were not seasonal items — electronic items, clothing items, things that would traditionally be purchased at Christmas time — those could absolutely be affected.”

Carly Short, co-owner of Heart Mercantile in the Oregon District, said those predictions are in line with what she has seen happening at her store, with holiday décor coming in on time, but other items, including certain books, unavailable to put on the shelves.

“A lot of our larger vendors asked us to order earlier this year because things are going out of stock and we had to get our orders in a couple months before when we normally would,” she said. “So we have full basements just packed full of stuff that we normally would’ve gotten throughout the season.”

And Dr. Kellar said supply shortages are just one of the difficulties shoppers are liable to encounter this holiday season. He said items are also taking longer to ship. Due to excess demand, inflation and a lack of capacity, some of the items you do get will likely cost more than they did this time last year.

“The larger retailers will still try to attract customers with Black Friday sales, but they’re not going to have the [financial] impact that we’ve seen in previous years,” he said.

Both Kellar and Short said the best advice they can offer shoppers is to get a headstart this year, allowing for a better chance to get the items they want and giving themselves more time spread out spending.

“Shopping early this year is super important because some of the items we might not be able to get back in stock,” said Short. “Normally in past years, we would be able to put in that last-minute order and get them, but shipping has been slower and we’re not sure if we can get some of the items in, especially from our bigger companies.”

Kellar added, “My recommendation is that if you really need something under your tree, buy it early because there will be a shortage, you may not get what you want. People will put something under the tree for their loved one, but it will be something different than they had originally hoped.”

Short said she also encourages consumers to shop at small businesses that often purchase from other smaller vendors. The effect, she said will be an impact not just on one small business, but on the economic ecosystem that keeps small businesses running.