Welcome to another instalment of Monday Musings – a fortnightly(ish) series devoted to random musings on the LEGO hobby, community, my collection and beyond.
In case you missed it, Monday Musings can be long-form, or short bursts of whatever strikes my fancy, and be more traditional “blog-type” content. You may have noticed that I’m doing more news and launch posts, which I enjoy and still find ways to inject my opinions, instead of say, just drop a random gallery of images and call it a day, but I like writing, and want to give you guys a peek into how I’m perceiving things in the LEGO World – hence, Monday musings.
Here are the links to my previous 4 posts:
- #1 Having to limit the LEGO themes you collect
- #2 Is LEGO a good investment?
- #3 Does LEGO listen to their fans?
- #4 What kind of LEGO fan are you?
- #5 LEGO Leaks ruin the fan experience
For Monday Musings #6, this is a pre-holiday season warning about the supply chain and logistics crisis currently engulfing the world.
Wait, but that’s boring stuff – what does that have to do with LEGO? Well this affects everyone and everything, so this could jeopardise your LEGO buying plans as you head into Christmas, and maybe upcoming set launches as well.
The 2021 Supply Chain Crisis
If you work in any sort of business, or have some some type of job that involves manufacturing, and transporting goods around the world, you’ll probably have heard about the global supply chain crisis that businesses are currently grappling with, and it’s all tied to ships like the Maersk Line Triple-E, which was immortalised as a LEGO set in 2014.
The shipping and container industry around the world is currently undergoing a TON of pressure because there aren’t enough shipping containers and boats to meet the demand of businesses trying to move goods and raw materials around the world.
The Covid-19 surge around the world caused by the Delta variant has wrecked havoc, causing port and factory closures, and in an industry with razor-thin margins, and little to no wiggle room when it comes to timings, these things can add up to create a not-so-great picture.
In a nutshell – in the last few months, the price of transporting goods and services through sea (and air) have skyrocketed to unseen levels in the industry.
Let me paint a picture, because of Covid-19, ports all over the world have had their capacity disrupted, which means ships getting unloaded slower than usual, and ocean freights are just waiting for their turn, and when these delays happen, they take longer to get back or to make pickups on their way,
Oh and it’s not even these boats, there’s also a container shortage the world over, and this has also impacted the price of air freight, which is now at absurd levels.
Not good to move things across the world.
Here are some useful articles to learn more:
- The World Economy’s Supply Chain Problem Keeps Getting Worse
- Executives warn customers to brace for continued shortages and price hikes in 2022: “I half-jokingly tell people ‘Order your Christmas presents now’”
- Australians urged to plan ahead for Christmas shopping amid ‘dramatically bad’ global supply chain crisis
Okay, that makes sense, but why does that impact LEGO?
The toy industry and LEGO make or break their year through one season and one season alone – Christmas, which is less than 100 days away.
That’s why we often get the the best and most exciting LEGO sets in the second half of the year, and also why October’s release schedule currently looks insane.
Parents, which are the major buyers of LEGO (and of course adults looking to treat themselves) traditionally buy inordinate amounts of LEGO at Christmas – something that LEGO knows, but this global supply chain crisis is threatening to derail all of that.
LEGO is manufactured in factories all over the world, with parts and pieces sourced from multiple factories across the globe. In a single LEGO set, the instructions and box could be printed in China, minifigures sourced from the Czech Republic, and bricks sourced from Hungary and Denmark, and it’s all packed in Mexico – all locations of LEGO manufacturing facilities. Note: hypothetical scenario – I don’t really know how LEGO’s supply chain works.
Retailers (and LEGO themselves) plan their Christmas inventory months ahead of December, as it usually takes several weeks for LEGO to send stock around the world.
LEGO is a business, and they have different margins for products, but IF the price of logistics and even raw materials (like ABS plastic, paper for instructions/boxes etc) go up, execs and their finance team will be carefully eyeing these costs and maybe deciding … not to make more stock for Christmas, or hold off on sending stock until prices calm down.
Dire out of stocks/less discounts
This could mean, retailers not being able to replenish their stock ahead of the holiday season, or big box retailers holding back stock for their Christmas catalogues.
Where this might affect toy stores and even LEGO Stores, is that they might not get the exact quantities of stock they want/ordered because of these shipping issues.
If you can, take a look at your local LEGO store or toy store – the empty shelves are not a coincidence, and these retailers are sweating too, not knowing when/how much stock they’ll get before the holiday rush.
This could also mean delayed sets or launches.
We’ve seen it already, in fact very recently when the 75391 Hogwarts Icons launch got delayed in America, presumably because of these shipping delays/costs.
Look, I also wouldn’t be 100% surprised if some upcoming set launches get delayed, or even pushed out to 2022 because of how dire the situation is – and things change constantly as well.
What to do to avoid disappointment?
I’m buying early this year. Things like Advent Calendars – I’ve gotten most of mine already, and not leaving things to chance, in the hopes of saving a few dollars.
I usually leave mine to the last minute, but I’m starting to get spooked. When large retailers like Target, Kmart and even Amazon Australia start running out of Advent Calendars in September – you know something fishy is afoot.
When popular sets like the LEGO Ideas Typewriter, Boba Fett’s Starship, The Guardians Ship or even 76178 Daily Bugle have been perennially out of stock throughout the year (and these are all at different pricepoints), you know that something isn’t quite right.
October 1 is shaping up to be a mammoth release with the Mini Disney Castle, Nintendo 64 Question Mark Block, Santa’s Visit, LEGO Queer Eye and Santa’s Sleigh – I would start planning my purchases far in advance, and be wary that some of the sets you’re most excited about might become very scarce, very soon.
If you’re thinking of Advent Calendars, I’d also secure them early to avoid disappointment, especially if you’d like to join in again this year with my annual LEGO Advent Calendar countdown!
This is all quite messy, and I’m starting to read some concerning headlines like LEGO potentially looking at increasing the price of sets, at least in Germany – this would explain some of the price hikes we’ve seen here in Australia, especially in the second half of 2021, but to be completely honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if LEGO does so.
I just hope this resolves itself soon.
How have your LEGO Stores or toy stores been looking? Do shelves look bare? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
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