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Unless Ken's a lorry driver, Barbie might be spending this Christmas alone



We hear on the news every day now about supply chain issues in the supermarkets – problems of a lack of lorry drivers among other problems linked to Covid and Brexit. This is potentially a big issue for the power balance and ultimately the agreements between retailers, logistics companies and the suppliers. No doubt we’ll see how this simmering conflict plays out over the next few months.

Today we’re told that the problems may well now impact as far Christmas, as retailers start to try and ramp up supply. There is of course always the danger that as retailers clamour for limited internal resource (such as Tesco's £1000 lorry driver signing-on bonuses) and limited product availability against rising demand – there is a sense of inevitability that increased costs will give way to higher prices for the consumer.

More specifically, the BBC reports that Paw Patrol, Barbie and Rainbocorns(?) may be in short supply. Whilst this may well drive these products up the price/demand supply curve, there’s another issue for beleaguered parents…. What do you do if the first-choice present is not in stock?!

In his book ‘Influence’ Robert Cialdini talks about the power of scarcity and cites the example of a father who can’t get his child’s favourite toy for Christmas a few days before the big day.


With the prospect of potential doom on the horizon, the father capitulates. The end result is that the child gets the Christmas ‘fudge-it’ present (as an interim) and latterly gets the ‘favourite’ item a few weeks later. A double purchase whammy for the parents and a Christmas extension for the retailer.

If all the retailers are in the same boat of course, this may yet benefit them all.


Now if your kids are as smart as mine, they will say Father Christmas is well-practiced at getting his elves to manufacture on time and then his reindeer to deliver on time. My advice would be (if you have kids who still believe in the magic of Christmas and don’t yet have all the answers) to structure their Christmas expectations early this year. Otherwise you can most likely expect additional cost or emotional blackmail!

Despite my daughter’s protestations that the 8th January is a rubbish time of year to have a birthday, I’m actually quite pleased this year, it’s always good to have options (If I’m stuck I can buy the fudge-it present for Christmas then the real one on her birthday without any extra financial drain)!


Sam Macbeth 26th August 2021



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