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FAQ: What happens to the Christmas gifts despite delivery bottlenecks and a lack of parts

Black Friday is just around the corner and Christmas is not far away – high time to start thinking about Christmas presents. But things are different this year: delivery bottlenecks make it difficult to buy toys, bicycles or electronics and even some books are not available. What is still sold out? How did the delivery problems arise? And are Asian online shops a sensible alternative? In our FAQ we give you answers about the most important questions about delivery bottlenecks and Christmas gifts.

Why are there delivery bottlenecks?

The delivery bottlenecks have various causes. Some of the problems became more pronounced for the first time during the corona pandemic. On the one hand, this is because factories had to close due to lockdowns; on the other hand, global consumption did not collapse as much as many companies had expected. This increased demand, and at the same time factories could not restart production quickly enough after the lockdowns.

Problems in global logistics intensify this development: the pandemic is causing delays at ports and the closure of the Suez Canal delayed freight routes on a lasting basis. Containers are also currently in short supply. Even if factories can make products, the items will reach their destination later than usual.

Although the corona pandemic first put many delivery bottlenecks on the agenda, problems have been looming for a long time: a prominent example is the shortage of computer chips. Silicon production temporarily stopped during the pandemic. Production then started again slowly. In addition, only a handful of companies can make the current chips. At the same time, the number of devices that require an advanced computer chip has grown steadily in recent years, driving demand skyward.

The causes of the lack of wood and paper are similarly complex. Corona has made waste paper in short supply; in addition, wood beetles destroyed a significant part of the timber harvest in Canada. The worldwide building boom has been increasing the demand for wood for years and online trading is consuming more and more paper and cardboard for packaging.

But other raw materials are also in short supply, including iron, steel and hard plastic. An improvement in the situation is already in sight for many product categories. The paper shortage should ease again around the beginning of next year. Production in Asia and some logistics problems are also likely to improve with the end of the pandemic. The stabilization of computer chips will take a little longer: According to current estimates, the deficiency will only resolve in two to three years.


Which products are affected?

The list of products affected by the supply bottlenecks is long. In the following, we will introduce you to an (incomplete) series of articles that are currently difficult to find.
Don’t worry – not all of them are completely sold out. Basically, the newer a product, the more difficult it is to obtain it. So the latest bike may be sold out, but you can usually still find the previous version.

electronics

– game consoles
– smartphones
– laptops
– WLAN router
– Household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, dishwashers or washing machines

Chip shortage, increased demand and logistics problems
toy

– Most toys with computer chips, many products with wood and some with hard plastic

Shortage of chips, wood and plastic
Cycles Shortage of raw materials and logistics problems
Books Lack of wood and waste paper
clothing

– sneakers
– sportswear and accessories
– Outdoor jackets and hiking boots

Shortage of raw materials and logistics problems
Musical instruments and accessories Lack of wood and logistics problems
Jewelry and watches increased demand and logistics problems
furniture Lack of wood
cars Chip shortage, sluggish production and increased demand
Products for people in need of care Logistic problems
Inexpensive tools and building materials from Asia Logistic problems

When should i order?

The short answer: as soon as possible! Last-minute purchases shortly before Christmas are especially not recommended online anyway. Then delivery services are usually overloaded and shipping takes an average of two to three days longer.

Due to the delivery bottlenecks, it is best to order earlier this year. The exact time depends on the product. Bicycles, toys, and electronics – especially consoles – should be ordered as soon as possible. You can spend more time with jewelry; the delivery bottlenecks are not so serious here.

It looks similar with books. The publishers have increased their book stocks over the year. But if a book is sold out before Christmas, print shops can no longer reproduce it spontaneously due to the lack of paper.

However, panic buying is not necessary. With specific items, delivery bottlenecks can occur from time to time, and entire product categories are sold out, but this will probably only happen in the rarest of cases. Even if you can’t fulfill a specific request with it, a similar item is almost always available.


Where can I currently still be lucky?

Books in particular are readily available. Of course, you can also receive digital gifts such as films or computer games without any problems – after all, nothing is produced for them. Concert tickets or vouchers for restaurant visits, vacations or the like are largely unaffected by delivery bottlenecks.

But you can sometimes still find products that are supposedly sold out online. Just have a look around at different shops, sometimes there is still last stock or returned items. Pay attention to the expected delivery date, so that the item arrives before Christmas.

On second-hand platforms such as Ebay, Vinted and Co., with a little luck, you will get used items that have been sold out. This is particularly useful for bicycles. Often it can even save you some money. A look at the offline stores in your area can also be worthwhile. These often have stocks that are not yet sold out. In addition, you save the shipping costs and the risk of sending a parcel shortly before Christmas.


What should I consider if I order directly from abroad?

If a product is already sold out in the major online shops, you can still switch to online shops from abroad. The most sought-after alternatives come from China. There you will often find products that are offered cheaply, which are only more expensive or not available at all in Europe. To ensure that the items arrive by Christmas and that you do not run any security risks, you should consider the following factors:

  • Avoid counterfeiting: Particularly cheap offers for popular products such as smartphones or consoles are often counterfeits. Using the product is then probably not much fun anyway, but customs can also confiscate the item.

tip: You can find more information about counterfeit smartphones in online shops in this article.

  • Avoid no-name products: Products without branding sometimes do not work according to European safety standards. This can put you, your child or your home at risk, for example through an electric shock or small parts that can be swallowed. Make sure to look for a “CE” seal when buying.
  • purchase: Purchasing via Asian online shops works in principle in the same way as with other online shopping platforms. Sellers offer their goods via the platform; you pay by credit card, instant transfer or PayPal. If possible, use PayPal, as the service provides buyer protection for missing or defective goods.

tip: In this tipps + tricks article we explain how PayPal works and how you can use PayPal buyer protection.

  • Returns and complaints: Returns and complaints are complicated, especially with smaller retailers, as the support usually only speaks broken English. According to German law, Asian retailers should actually take back defective products – but unfortunately it is often unclear whether they will comply with them. Often the effort of a complaint is only worthwhile for higher order values. If you cannot reach an agreement with a retailer, you can contact the operator of the online shop. In the event of defects, this will often replace the purchase price as part of a buyer protection program. When paying with PayPal, you can also contact their buyer protection support.

If you are ordering from a foreign online shop, it is best to be careful. But ordering can still be worthwhile – especially for products that are sold out in Germany or that are significantly more expensive.


Which Chinese online shops are there?

There are a variety of Asian online stores. In the case of smaller shops, the service level is often not acceptable. We recommend that you use one of the larger providers so that you do not have to pay for a defective or undelivered order.

The largest Chinese online shop is AliExpress.com. If you have problems with a product here, you must first coordinate this with the respective dealer. However, if you do not come to an agreement with them or do not receive any feedback, you can make use of the AliExpress Buyer Protection. The platform then reimburses the purchase price; but not paid import fees.

Is similar in size Wish.com. Here you can return an article within 14 days if you do not like it; However, you bear the return costs. You can complain about defective products for 30 days and get your money back. Wish often reimburses low purchase prices without returning the item.

But also pay attention to the customs fees and import regulations for these online shops.

(anka)

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