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Last year’s column – ‘Holidays with a twist’ – noted that the 2020 holiday season has been strained by pandemic restrictions, but it pointed to ways in which we can still make the most of the vacation. perfect frame for Alexandria postcards while taking the necessary precautions.

Well, here we are a year later, and the new coronavirus is still in hiding, so we need to continue to factor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols into our planning – at least until there is. sufficient immunity that viruses and variants cannot gain a foothold. Although it does use up our patience, it is a global reality and our community is way ahead of most in making the most of it.

This season is also complicated by supply chain challenges. You’ve seen the news and perhaps personally noticed an empty shelf. What’s going on and why are experts predicting it will continue until mid-2022?

The upside is that we all come out of pandemic isolation ready to do ourselves or get back to business. Demand is on the rise, and that’s a good economic trend. However, it becomes stressful when the offer can’t keep up. It is further exacerbated when this imbalance between supply and demand occurs during the peak retail season of the year.

The global supply chain is made up of multiple components: manufacturers who supply finished products or components, shippers, ports, warehouses and transport companies. A disruption occurs when one of them becomes a bottleneck, but is almost impossible to resolve when all of the components are hampered by multiple factors.

First, the pandemic has forced the shutdown and shutdown of operations around the world. By the time these woke up, much of the world experienced century-old storms, weather disruptions and power outages that further delayed things. International interdependence, just-in-time inventory strategies, the increase in e-commerce, labor shortages, and a Delta variant escape have further complicated matters.

As with the pandemic, this is a global circumstance. Everyone feels pain in the supply chain, and everyone’s struggles have ripple effects.

There are mitigation strategies, and these apply to both consumers and business owners. There are no quick fixes, but the better informed we all are, the more effective the workarounds. The first step is to anticipate and plan ahead by continually looking for what will be scarce. Businesses should consult with their professional groups or peers. This can mean stocking up on items early, while they’re available, and before prices go up. This might require alternative sources of supply or entirely different substitutes.

Transparency is the most effective cover. This means everyone at the top and bottom of the chain is keeping up to date so everyone can plan accordingly. Don’t yell at suppliers – work with them to find out what and when to order. Merchants and consumers who communicate and support each other bode well for successful and long-term relationships.

Virginia Small Business Development Centers are promoting “Buy Soon”, a campaign to encourage Buy Now for all upcoming vacations. Now more than ever, it’s time to shop local, shop small, and shop early.

Considering Alexandria’s celebrated holiday setting and the characteristic resilience of our community, we are quite capable of overcoming the challenges that lie ahead and making the most of the season ahead.

The happiest of holidays!

The writer is executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

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