School supply shortage: Why these back-to-school items could be hard to find

Checking items off of your student’s school supply list may be more difficult this year.

Back-to-school shoppers could see shortages impacting everything from backpacks to electronics.

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"The shortage of supply has been happening, as you remember, with the start of COVID," says retail analyst and financial expert Hitha Herzog. "And now, this is called the ‘second wave’ or the ‘second supply chain shock.’"

Herzog says items like backpacks, school supplies, clothing, shoes and anything to do with being imported into the country are going to be in short supply.

"Basically what's happening, not only are you having issues having product come into the country, but you're having delivery issues, you're having supply issues, materials to make the product itself," Herzog says. "So, to use a very cliché term, it's a ‘perfect storm’ of not being able to get these products in time for back to school."

How to get what you need

Herzog says it’s important for parents to shop early.

"I keep telling everyone, you have to go out now. As you get closer to when school starts, that's when you're gonna start seeing that supply chain start to shorten and those products start to dissipate," she says.

Parents who choose to shop online should still shop early and leave time for returns.

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If shoppers are unable to find an item in stores, Herzog recommends checking the secondhand market.

"Or let's say you're looking at electronics, which is going to be one of the products that are really going to be in short supply, get the second generation. Because in that case, there might be more supply of it and it also might be less expensive to get the second generation of that product," she says.

When will the shortages end?

Herzog says supply chain issues could stick around through the year, including the holiday season.

"I was talking to a couple CEOs of major retailers, and they were saying they're not going to see the supply chain shock dissipate until second quarter of 2022. Which basically means, when it comes to holiday, we'll also get to see that short supply of product," she says.

Again, she says the key will be to shop early. While you’re out checking items off of your school supply lists, maybe pick up some gifts, too.

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