By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A BAHAMIAN retailer says this Christmas has proved more challenging than in previous years because product orders had to be placed months in advance to overcome supply chain and shipping challenges.
Martha Wallace, owner/ operator of Janaees Uniform Centre, told Tribune Business all Christmas inventory had to be shipped by the end of August because she could not rely on receiving timely product if orders were placed in November as occurred pre-COVID.
And, despite placing orders some four months in advance of the festive season, not all items have arrived. A shipment of bicycles will be received by week’s end, but children’s tricycles will now arrive after Christmas.
“The challenge that we had this year was that our shipment and supplies were coming in late,” Ms Wallace explained. “We just have to order earlier and trust that the persons will stay healthy, because in the Far East when they have one person with COVID-19 the whole place shuts down.
“That is a big challenge. But we have our bicycle containers coming on Monday. So I understand that they are having some delays with container shipping in the Far East, and they will slow down on the process like how they would have had it, because that’s what our shipping agent told us. We’re trying to just get to things earlier.”
China’s ‘zero COVID’ policy has caused havoc for global supply chains as it has resulted in multiple factory closures, halting and disrupting production schedules as well as the shipping and logistics sectors. Ms Wallace said: “We started ordering in April because they had to prepare for if I wanted specialty items. They had to prepare those items.
“Every time you would talk with the shippers, they keep saying this is closed down, that has closed down, and so many items never left until September. We have a container that will be here even after Christmas, which is so very sad because in that container is our tricycles. We’re a uniform store dealing with the children, and you want to put a smile on their faces, so it’s challenging.”
Janaees has increased staff numbers to 30 persons for Christmas this year, a 50 percent increase from the regular 20 workers. “I want to commend our staff, they’re doing an awesome job,” Ms Wallace said. “I know that they are tired, but they’re not saying, and they’re still trying to assist customers and finding the items and getting everything that they’re looking.
“I say hats off to the staff. We normally bring in additional persons so we have about 30 people on duty now. We’re looking a lot better for this Christmas than what we did last Christmas. God has really richly blessed us coming out of the pandemic. We had some challenges, but the objective was to keep all of the staff employed, and we’ve had staff that had been with us for 20 years plus. So we’re just making it happen and diversifying with the seasons.”
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