The toy industry is grappling with massive shipping delays as labor and transportation constraints have squeezed the supply of toys on retail shelves.
Events like the blockage of the Suez Canal in March, coupled with the ongoing congestion in U.S. ports, have slowed delivery and increased costs for many toy manufacturers. Rising staffing costs, a resin shortage, and power outages in China have also strained the supply of goods and inflated prices, reported CNBC.
Shipping containers that once sold for $3,200 are now priced for $20,000 or more, according to toy executive and CEO of MGA Entertainment Isaac Larian. Even when the containers manage to make it to shore, it is uncertain whether there will be enough truckers to move the shipments and deliver them to retailers, Larian explained.
“It’s a really, really complex set of problems that has a chain effect, and I’m afraid that this will continue for a long time,” Larian said.
The cracks in the global transportation pipeline could dampen sales prospects for both retailers and toy companies as stores try to sell through the inventory in warehouses instead of placing more orders.
“Christmas is Dec. 25,” Larian said. “If we don’t get the merchandise on the shelves before then, then the sales drop off substantially after that. These toys are already made. The inventory hangover will go to January, February, March, April, if not longer. The warehouses will be full of merchandise.”
MGA Entertainment, the producer of kids’ line LOL Surprise, Rainbow High, and Little Tikes, has downwardly revised its expected sales growth for the year from 50% to 18-20%. The company currently has enough inventory to fill two in three outstanding orders.
Other toy manufacturers like Hasbro and Mattel seem better equipped. According to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, the company uses all available tactics to ensure toys get to store shelves on time. Part of its strategy is expanding the number of ports it uses in the U.S. and Asia. While some toys may be delayed, Hasbro expects all its products to be on shelves in time for the holiday season.
“We believe we’ll have all the products, albeit maybe we’d like a little more product in certain categories, but we’ll have the product for the holidays,” Goldner said.
The decision to expedite orders will increase costs for consumers. According to Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, the company will raise toy prices to recoup costs.
“We believe the toy industry as a whole will remain a strategic category for retailers,” he said. “Items are not expensive. And parents forever will prioritize spending money on their children, especially when it comes to quality products and trusted brands.”
In addition to rising costs, consumers will have fewer choices to choose from, the outlet reported. Retailers are focusing on amassing a few select products over a little bit of everything.
“If your kid has their heart set on something, go buy it now,” said Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Association. “Don’t wait.”