Why you’ll want to shop early for your kids’ holiday toys this year

Local toy retailer stocked up early, but says parents can expect higher prices

SAN ANTONIO – Christmas may be 79 days away, but Sandi Andrews already is checking her list.

“I do not want to disappoint my grandchildren,” she said.

She usually starts her holiday shopping around Thanksgiving. Not this year.

At Learning Express in Stone Oak, the shelves are stuffed. Anticipating supply chain issues, owner Mary Adams ordered games, fidget toys, dolls and the popular Squishmallows back in June, four months earlier than usual. Despite her early planning, not everything arrives.

“If I order 100 of something, I may only get 20,” Adams said.

Still, her storeroom and warehouse are well-stocked. But when it runs low, anything she orders now is not guaranteed to make it in time to land under anyone’s tree.

The vast majority of toys are made in China and have to be shipped. Now, there is trouble in Toyland. Ships idling off the docks in California are unable to unload cargo, including shipments of toys. Supply chain bottlenecks are causing shipping prices to soar, as well.

“A year ago, a vendor would pay $2,000 to get a product in and it would come within seven to 10 days,” Adams said. “Today, it’s $20,000.”

That means she and other store owners are paying more and she’s already had to increase prices.

The supply chain is tangled are multiple points. Parts shortages, labor shortages, trucking issues, container costs and more add to the challenges. Supply chain experts say they don’t expect the clog to clear any time soon, meaning come December, it may be panic time for parents.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.