Supply chain issues, Omicron Variant worries impact Christmas shopping in El Paso

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With Christmas is less than a month away, and supply chain issues still causing disruptions, the news of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron and its possible impact on commerce is causing some concern for retailers.

El Paso toy store, Mr. C’s Toys – located in Bassett Place – has empty shelves, as the manager says they’re waiting on shipments, hoping to receive them before Christmas.

“It still takes a little bit of a delay, some of our highest ticket items they take two, three months to get here so it’s a little bit of an issue right now because around the store we have some empty spaces here and there…”

Lawnie Lazalde the Manager of Mr. C’s Toys

Lazalde is hopeful that the inventory the store does have gets cleared off the shelves by buyers this Christmas; he says sales are down 60 percent from where they were pre-pandemic, and online shopping is also playing a roll in sales being down.

“I feel like people are going a little bit more online trying to buy from the big stores,” said Lazalde.

He adds that the toy store can’t offer as big of deals, like chain stores did for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but that they can give you something to walk out of the store with.

“We may not offer as local, like a local store we may not offer like the biggest discounts or maybe we don’t offer the lowest prices, but you know you get it on time. You don’t have to pay for the shipping, you don’t have to pay for the handling, you get the merchandise right away,” said Lazalde.

University of Texas Department of Economics and Finance Professor, Tom Fullerton saying the wave of Delta Virus cases and news of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron are most likely going to shift more sales to online.

“We’re defiantly going to see some leakages during the holiday season from what would have been brick and mortar retail sales in favor of online commerce,” said Fullerton.

In addition to online shopping, Fullerton also says that the Omicron variant is already having an impact on the value of the peso. Making it harder for shoppers from Mexico to afford to shop in El Paso.

“Over the last 30 days, the peso has depreciated about 10 percent against the dollar which means that buying goods and services in El Paso has suddenly become more expensive for people who reside on the south side of the border and earn in pesos…”

University of Texas Department of Economics and Finance Professor, Tom Fullerton

As for expected shortages of Christmas gifts, Fullerton said a few weeks back that the reopening of the international bridges to non-essential travel would likely mean we would see shortages in El Paso sooner than the rest of the country, however, he says we haven’t seen those shortages yet.

“There haven’t been large-scale shortages up to this point, December we’ll probably observe shortages that have been observed already, so retailers will have to be on their toes with managing their inventory,” said Fullerton.

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