It’s not even Halloween yet but New Jersey residents have already started their holiday shopping. Because the supply chain disruption crisis keeps getting worse and there are big delivery delays wherever you look.

According to Rutgers University economist James Hughes, the shortage of products and goods is being caused by multiple factors.

He said when the pandemic began, worldwide shipping companies cut delivery schedules for certain items and materials because they believed COVID would cut demand for them. But just the opposite happened.

He said more and more homebound residents started spending money on electronics, appliances, furniture, fitness machines and home improvements instead of taking trips and going out to eat, and soon demand was outpacing supply.

At the same time, unvaccinated workers in other countries where goods and materials are produced stopped working because of fears about the virus, while in this country the labor shortage meant there weren’t enough people to unload arriving cargo ships and drive supplies to stories, so the problem got worse.

“In a sense what’s happened is unbelievable because everything turned south at the same time,” he said.

So how do we get ourselves out of this mess?

“With great difficulty, that’s the only answer. There’s no silver bullet. Hopefully COVID-19 and the delta variant will taper off,” he said.

Back to real stores

Hughes said holiday shoppers heading online are finding some delivery delays can be several weeks or even a few months, so “they may then start scouting ... stores to see what type of inventory is left there.”

He said retail stores that have been losing customers to online shopping for years may soon find they are jammed with customers who are “realizing there’s going to be a problem, so they’re going to try every which way to get the goods and presents certainly that they want.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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