The Early Bird Gets the Holiday Worm


Sarah Shay

Will your Christmas present get under the tree in time?

Chase Kim and Karina Shah

If you buy a Christmas present right at this second, there’s a good chance it could end up coming after Christmas. Today’s online shopping market increasingly revolves around speed as a selling point, and seeing a delivery time beyond a mere two days has become unthinkable. Drastically increased shipping delays and late deliveries send a message for this holiday season: get your Christmas shopping done early this year.

The reason for the delays comes down to the pandemic, as everything seems to these days. Though millions of jobs are available, unemployment still remains several million higher than it was in February 2020- people are simply not working. The “labor shortage” leads to the occurrence of the shipping and processing times increasing overall. 

The labor shortage is attributed to a number of factors: a global pandemic, a large number of early retirees, better unemployment benefits for many workers under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, and the fact that people may have built up a large enough financial cushion so that they don’t need to work any longer. 

Our nation’s ports are no exception to the recent shortage of labor- especially those closest to us in Long Beach and Los Angeles. Between these two ports, 40% of US containerized imports are processed (

With the global economy almost at a state of full recovery, shipping is at a high. However, the ports still lack the number of workers needed to get items into the country at an efficient speed. Countless shipping containers wait at the ports, their contents unable to enter the country.

Thus – packages are late. 

It isn’t just the packages, though. Almost everything is now a product of imports or is an import itself. The global retail market almost entirely depends on the celerity of the shipping system. Recently, home appliances and furniture have seen significant delays from the odd supply-demand limbo.

Alongside the surge in shopping for the holiday season, there’s no doubt that the supply chain will be incredibly inefficient. Amazon, which is perhaps most heavily affected, has supposedly spent “billions of dollars” alone in an effort to reduce the effects.

In August, vice president Kamala Harris recommended that people begin to buy their Christmas presents early to reduce strain on the global supply chains: “if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might be the time to start buying them, because the delay may be many, many months.” Journalist Leo Terrell was appalled when he heard this, claiming that Harris was alluding to a full economic shutdown. Others were also alarmed. Henry Zhou (9), was not one of these people, calling early Christmas shopping “really good.”

In past months, we laughed at the idea that we’d need to buy Christmas presents four months in advance. Now – your present might come in April.