“Start your holiday shopping now!!” I have read the same urgings and alerts several times over the past few weeks on business and mass media channels, and it’s starting to get old.
Many recent news stories have been sharing similar information about the current situation. There are shipping container shortages and other cascading effects that means a lot of products aren’t arriving from their overseas destinations in a timely manner.
On top of the shipping delays, there are also still shortages of parts, materials, components, and completed products.
News reports have also been discussing how demand is greatly outpacing supply.
If I had to sum up the current situation, it seems that there are fewer products than people want to buy, they’re taking longer to arrive at stores, and they’re costing more than usual.
It seems that manufacturers and retailers are mainly warning about the availability of holiday season resupplies. In other words, shelves will soon be full and towards the start of the holiday season, but they are expecting replenishment shortages as products start to sell out.
How will this affect tools, home improvement retailers, and Holiday 2021 tool deals?
Will this affect Home Depot, Lowe’s, and “other retailers” that include smaller chains and independent tool dealers? Probably, but I don’t think the effect will be as sever as everyone is worried about.
There are 2 types of tools of concern here.
- Everyday tools
- Special Buys
For lack of a better description, everyday tools include anything that one purchases as the need arises. If you’re starting a big tiling job, maybe you need a new tile saw. A woodworking hobbyist might buy a new sander or other tools regularly as their budget allows for it.
Basically, these are the tools that are regularly purchased year-round. We have already seen shortages on certain everyday tools, although this can happen any year. There are usually substitutes or alternatives available, although that’s not always true. If an everyday tool sells out unexpectedly or due to outside influencers, there’s not much that can be done.
And then you have special buys. These are the tools that are specially built and priced for holiday season promotions. Some of specially configured bundles, others are built and sold in high quantities.
The “special buys” could be impacted by the current situation, but the same was true last year and everything turned out alright.
Last year, in response to the frequent question of “what’s going to happen to holiday tool deals because of COVID?,” Home Depot announced that they would have Black Friday tool deals throughout the holiday season.
In a surprise move, Lowe’s actually extended their holiday season schedule last year. Home Depot advertised season-long deals and seemed to follow their typical schedule, where many of their special buys are displayed starting in November.
Things were also different last year, as the country was slowly opening up after the initial COVID pandemic closures, and the idea was that an extended sales period could help reduce or more evenly spread out the foot traffic.
There were some changes last year, with respect to the types of tool deals we had been seeing, but it was very much as busy a Holiday shopping season as in previous years.
Home Depot and Lowe’s seemed to have average Father’s Day 2021 sales events, although there were some irregularities.
For instance, I noticed higher pricing on a Dewalt Atomic series cordless drill and impact driver combo kit at Home Depot and independent dealers, but perhaps it was a local discrepancy. Perhaps this was a control factor to help reduce demand and ensure a higher number of carryover inventory.
According to Home Depot’s website, my local store has 102 of the Dewalt Atomic series combo kits in stock, and they have 2,681 units available for shipping. Home Depot also has 2,832 of the Dewalt DWS779 miter saw available for shipping. These are both high-volume sellers when discounted for the holidays.
Tool brands aren’t immune to worldwide economic disruptions, but they can minimize the effects with advanced planning.
It is possible that tools will be affected by all of the international production and shipping issues that have consumer brands and retailers in a panic.
But, brands and tool retailers have also weathered this storm before. Also, the current shipping crisis didn’t just happen overnight.
Two months ago, business news reports discussed how Home Depot reserved its own container ship and that they have also transported smaller higher value items (such as power tools) via air freight.
Stanley Black & Decker, Milwaukee Tool, and other brands that typically dominate tool retailers’ Q4 sales, have proven to be incredibly versatile and adaptable. Both companies have the ability to manufacture certain tools at different locations.
With all this in mind, I keep hearing “experts” urging consumers to start their holiday shopping now, and it seems like an immense overreaction to me.
HOWEVER, keep in mind that I mentioned two types of tools – everyday tools and “special buys.”
Let’s say you were planning to buy a new power tool. There have been shortages and delays, and there will be further shortages. Is it usually exempt from holiday season promos? Then maybe don’t hesitate to buy it if or when you can, or be prepared to wait. I ordered a new power tool in April and it finally arrived in August.
Things will definitely be impacted, but tool brands and retailers have done a great job of planning around shortages, delays, and other obstacles. Retailer’s promo sales areas are going to be full of many of the same types of tool deals as in previous years.
But the tool industry is also very different from other consumer industries. If a high-demand promo-priced power tool sells out in November, there will be other options. If a certain Paw Patrol toy sells out, good luck ever finding it again.
Just keep in mind that there are some obstacles, delays, and shortages that brands and retailers can plan and prepare for, and others that they can only respond to.
Not everyone is going to find the tool deals or promos they want, but I expect for the 2021 holiday shopping season to be as big and busy as ever.