2022 State of Supply Chain & Promotional Merchandise  


2022 State of Supply Chain & Promotional Merchandise  

It was a long haul to get through the pandemic as an industry. In addition to dealing with the impact on our families and community, many core events and activations that drive the custom merchandise business were put on hold. We pivoted successfully to help our client with work-from-home kits, virtual conference merchandise, and employee onboarding packages that helped new hires feel part of the team on day one.  

While things are looking up, there are three key issues we are still facing (as are many industries). We have given a run down below of the four challenges we are managing and some tips and tricks on how you can navigate these times to deliver amazing, sustainable, and ethical merchandise. 

1. Rolling Price Increases  

The Issue: As a rule, our supplier partners undertake price reviews early in the year. If we see price increases, they are usually in January or February and then they’re set. In the past 18 months, we have seen unprecedented price increases, and they are rolling out multiple times a year. Fueled by inflation, labour shortages, gas prices and global conflict, the upward pressure on prices is real, and our industry is not immune.  

How We’re Helping You Manage: 

2. Inventory Issues 

The Issue: This is an issue we’ve been hearing about since covid. Extreme inventory issues, from bike stores with no bikes to manufacturers who can’t find shipping containers to put their merchandise in, this has been one of our biggest challenges of the past two years. Looking for a deep dive on this? Check out this awesome read on “How the World Ran Out of Anything” in the New York Times last year.  

How We’re Helping You Manage: 

3. Shipping Delays 

The Issue: When the Ever Given container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal in early 2021, it became the symbol of a broken shipping system. Shortages of truck drivers, warehouse staff, shipping containers and fuel surcharges have all combined to create mayhem in the world of shipping. Add to that a surge in consumer demand, especially for products shipped direct-to-home, and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride.  

How We’re Helping You Manage: 

4. Labour Shortages 

The Issue: There is an acute shortage of workers in the US and Canada. In Q2 of 2022, there were over 5 million more job openings than available workers to fill them in the US alone. Pair that with the reality that Covid is not over, and many businesses are dealing with existing staff having to take sick days. In the promotional industry, this manifests in slower than usual times to pick, pack and ship products, slower production times in our decoration facilities and, at times, a delay in getting critical details like inventory levels from our supplier partners.  

How We’re Helping You Manage 

Reach out to us to get started on your next project and we’ll help you navigate the current state of merch!