Black Friday can squeeze supply chains and challenge Christmas

Black Friday can squeeze supply chains and challenge Christmas

Thought Starters 

Summary:  Black Friday is upon us and with the current pressure on supply chains the shopping frenzy may make it difficult for Christmas presents to reach stores in time for the Holidays.

‘Tis the season for shopping. While Thanksgiving still is primarily a tradition for Americans and people who are into American football, the Friday after, Black Friday, has become a global phenomenon, where shops across the globe make offers that can’t be refused.
But, on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, the act of getting goods from factories to shops, which is a task that’s previously been taken for granted, has become increasingly difficult.

“Containers are generally shipped from the big ports in China to the big ports in Europe and on the US East and West Coast. The frequency with which this has happened has been challenged by a strong global economic recovery creating a strong demand for goods around the world. Simultaneously, we’ve all become accustomed to the fact that when we order something online, we get it delivered within a few days. That has broken down and we have to be much more patient now,“ says Ole Hansen, Head of Commodities at Saxo.

In the picture below it can be seen that the amount of cargo being off-loaded and loaded in a port like Hong-Kong has fallen roughly 25 pct. on average from 2020 to 2021. This serves as an example of what Hansen describes above, i.e., that there are bottlenecks in the global supply chains, which make it harder for goods to go from one place to another and thus delivery takes longer. The picture also shows the massive price increase on shipping containers, which has almost tripled from 2020 to 2021. This indicates the imbalance between the “supply of logistics” relative to the demand of it. In other words, as a company it’s harder to get your goods in a container and on a containership and therefore get it to where it’s being sold. Therefore, you are willing to pay more for those containers.

Black Friday can squeeze supply chains and challenge Christmas - 1

So where does that leave all the Black Friday shoppers?

“Black Friday is going to happen even though I'm sure there's still a lot of stuff at harbours around the world, which is not going to reach the shops in time. But we have noticed something interesting; last month, the retail sales in the US surprised positively and it could potentially be consumers worrying that there won't be enough goods available when we get close to Christmas, so they're already stocking up on some of the goods they need to already now. Based on that it’s fair to assume we will have enough goods for Black Friday but Christmas is another matter,” says Hansen.

What does this mean for investors?

From an investor point of view, this is something to take note of, as it can have an impact on equities in both the logistics sector, as well as the e-commerce and consumer goods sectors. However, Head of Equity Strategy at Saxo, Peter Garnry, notes that with the right investment strategy, it shouldn’t be seen as a fundamental crisis: “There's always something we can worry about in the equity markets, but, as I tell the young people here at Saxo, who wants to listen to me: it pays off to be an optimist. I think you have to be an optimist about the world and these things will solve themselves. And if you stay true to being long-term in your investments and you remember to diversify your portfolio, then I think you’re off to a good start,” he says. 

If you want to have a look at some of the global logistics stocks and read more about the sector and its risks, you can invest in and get exposure towards these challenges, have a look at Garnry’s Logistics theme basket here (will open in a new window and require log-in to Saxo). If you instead want to have a look at his E-commerce basket, which is also affected by the supply chain issues, and read about its construction and risks, then take a look here (will open in a new window and require log-in to Saxo).