University Park, IL,
10:26 AM

GSU expert explains global supply chain disruption, impact on Christmas gifts


Dr. Tricia Kerns, a supply chain expert at Governors State University, has a dire warning about Christmas: Santa may not deliver everything on your list this year.

However, it has less to do with being naughty or nice and more to do with disruptions to the global supply chain, according to Kerns, Senior Lecturer in the College of Business and also Associate Director at Governors State University’s (GSU) Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator(SCICBI), the state’s only supply chain hub of experts and resources.

“I think Santa will make it here but I don’t think he’ll have all the goodies everyone wants,” Kerns said. 

She said the global supply chain, which refers to the process to produce and bring products to market, has been struggling to keep up with skyrocketing demand. In addition, nearly every industry is suffering from labor shortages, part of a trend dubbed the “Great Resignation.” As a result, some electronics, toys and cars may be harder to find or could cost more than usual. 

While many want to blame COVID-19 for the supply chain chaos, Kerns said there are multiple factors – not just the pandemic. At the onset of COVID-19, companies predicted that the economy would be sluggish, and slowed down on production. However, a year later, they are not only struggling to keep up with product demand but also rising costs due to supply and demand. On top of that, a lack of sufficient labor means slow delivery times and shipping delays. Therefore, whatever Christmas goods aren’t here now, “chances are they aren’t coming,” Kerns explained. 

“Right now, we’re filling up our warehouses with goods for next summer,” she said. “So there's an overall shortage because I think the prediction was off significantly.”

Though many companies are absorbing the increased cost of meeting demand, they can only do that for so long, Kerns said. Eventually, those increased costs will be passed along to consumers, otherwise known as inflation. 

Moving forward, Kerns said companies will have to work more closely with their partners to work through issues they both face. However they will also be forced to think more about how they invest in and partner with their employees. That’s something Governors State can help with through the School of Extended Learning and the College of Business.

“We can provide training, customized training,” Kerns said. “It doesn’t have to necessarily be a degree program and it can be entry level as well. Workforce development, workforce engagement, changing the way a culture is working with people rather than it being management heavy.”

To lean more about supply chain trends, listen to Dr. Kerns' podcast, Supply Chain A-Z.