Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions haunt ‘record-setting’ Halloween

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The scariest thing about Halloween 2021 is the supply chain, at least according to a Wall Street Journal headline. As Halloween, and then the extended holiday season approach, pandemic-related supply chain disruptions continue to cause uncertainty about product availability. What this year has shown is that all the planning in the world can’t protect supply chains from problems like port closures and congestion. However, companies like CJ Logistics can help customers spooked by the uncertainty and delay caused by these issues.

One of CJ Logistics’ customers, a major Halloween retailer, as usual, started preparing for the season in June with regular weekly shipments inbounded at our facilities in Chicago, Dallas and Portland. These are truckloads of boxes containing costumes and decorations that are sorted, put on pallets and stored until they’re sent to the multiple pop-up stores as needed, usually in late July as stores are staffed. Although the retailer is typically done filling stores by the middle of September, this year, because of delays, they were shipping all the way to October.

In the midst of all their other concerns with delays at the ports and truck driver shortages, the retailer was able to rely on CJ Logistics for efficiency and responsiveness once the product reached distribution centers. “Our customer was grateful for our attentive approach to their business,” said Matt Brzica, Sr. Director, Business Development. “They knew they could depend on our flexibility to ensure that shipments from the distribution centers to the retail stores got out the door quickly and accurately.”

For this seasonal retailer, other retailers and consumers, this “Halloweekend” is expected to be big as CDC guidelines have greenlighted outdoor trick or treating. Ninety three percent of US Millennial parents plan to celebrate Halloween this year, 80% of Americans will trick-or-treat and 82% are expecting to find safe and creative ways to celebrate the Halloween season, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Consumer spending on Halloween is expected to reach a record $10.14 billion in 2021, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey. This is up from $8.05 billion in 2020. The NRF survey conducted in September projects that $3.3 billion will be spent on costumes, with $3.2 billion on decorations, $3 billion on candy and $700 million on greeting cards.

The candy industry is expecting a big year, rebounding from 2020. Reporting that sales of chocolate and candy are 48 percent higher than in 2020 and almost 60 percent higher than in 2019, the National Confectioners Association says Halloween 2021 will be “bigger, better and sweeter than ever.”

Costumes and decorations are the categories most impacted by pandemic-related supply chain issues. The congestion at the ports and problems with intermodal transport from ports to distribution centers has meant that some popular holiday items have been hard to find for some shoppers. While the Halloween & Costume Association (HCA) was reporting record sales in group costumes, pop culture references, pirates, animals, and all things nostalgia, it was advising consumers to buy costumes early. Spirit Halloween saw anything animatronic go out the door quickly with few chances for restocking.

In the middle of October, the HCA issued a press release declaring an official costume shortage. “The fact that costume and décor sales are up 20-25% coupled with pandemic-related supply issues, have resulted in empty shelves all across the country,” Gregor Lawson, Halloween & Costume Association Chairman said in the press release. “We are expecting a complete sell-out this year as well as a record setting Halloween for the entire industry.” 

For more on how CJ Logistics can help handle supply chain issues during a “record setting” holiday period, contact us.