Business owners balance shipping costs and inflation as they prepare for the holiday season

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — Business was lively on Friday afternoon inside Light Years, a jewelry store in the village district.

“Our foot traffic has been very good here,” said owner Shannon Joyce, who took over the business in early April.

Joyce noted that they received some relief from lower overseas shipping prices. Data compiled by Statista found that global container freight rates fell more than 60% year-over-year, with Bloomberg Finance finding a 76% decrease in the cost of shipping a 40ft container from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

“The savings will be passed on to consumers, but it will take some time. A recent statistic I’ve seen is that it takes something like six to nine months for companies like Costco or Target or Walmart that import a lot, a lot of goods to actually pass on those costs,” said Connel Fullenkamp, ​​economics professor at Duke.

Fullenkamp focused on two of the reasons why prices fell sharply; decline in demand and canceled orders.

“It should be the time of year when all the boats are scrambling to get all the goods to the United States for the holiday season. So I think that’s really the disturbing news about that, is it that it may be a sign that at least the stores think it’s going to be a depressed holiday season,” Fullenkamp said.

The National Retail Federation reported holiday sales were up 14.1% in 2021 from 2020, but rising inflation could temper expectations.

“It really does seem like inflation is seriously diminishing people’s willingness to spend that extra amount on extravagant gifts and the like,” Fullenkamp explained.

OPEC’s announcement earlier this week that it would cut production sent energy prices up, with AAA reports an increase of nearly 14 cents this week in North Carolina.

“It seems like the situation with our railroads being extremely fuel efficient is still quite complicated and messed up in terms of the railcars where they need to be to ship things at the cheapest and most efficient rates. So I think than truck shipping, air shipping is going to be used more intensively than before,” Fullenkamp said.

Joyce said they had been hit by material shortages, particularly for their boxes, which they now paid a lot more to have delivered.

“Our biggest issue is that our employees here in the United States get goods and are able to keep costs down from there,” Joyce explained.

Yet she was aware of changing the prices.

Major companies, including Amazon and UPS, announce plans for seasonal hiring in the Triangle

She credits improved COVID measures for helping get people back to stores.

“It’s certainly been very important, especially with a lot of our jewelry. If it’s a certain stone, the color may be different. So it’s really nice for people to come and touch it and see it. “, said Joyce.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report on Friday, showing unemployment nationwide fell to 3.5%, and manufacturing had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

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