It's not like the date of Christmas Day changes from year to year so why is it that we are always shocked and surprised at how it sneaks up on us as soon as the calendar rolls over to December? Immediately, we are consumed with angst over what to buy people and this year I hate to break the bad news, but if you're still to start googling for the perfect present, you could already be out of luck.
Much has been written this year about the problems retailers are facing, and their issues haven't been limited to a lack of foot traffic. They estimate over 70 cargo ships are waiting to dock in Los Angeles, full of containers to be unloaded for the US and maybe here, that they say would stretch all the way down New Zealand and only 200km shy of completing the return journey. While our port is not on quite the same scale, the fact that 23 per cent of all freight ships in the world are held up waiting to get into port means there simply aren't enough ships to come all the way down to little old New Zealand bringing goods to us, or taking our goods to the world's markets.
Which brings me to my gift giving strategy for 2021, vouchers. Vouchers are the best way to go this Christmas from retailers, cafes and restaurants. They circumvent problems with dispatch and shipping, especially if you purchase an online voucher and print it at home. But vouchers aren't just good gifts for those who like to choose their own presents and make the most of Boxing Day sales, where dollars go further than mere hours prior.
Buying vouchers supports our local businesses, but first let's look at what a local business is, because while shopping local is fashionable it's the local bit which can be confusing. Shopping local isn't just shopping geographically close to where you live. It entails supporting nearby restaurants and village retailers, but it doesn't mean shopping at a large international chain store simply because it's walking distance to your house.
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Despite being fronted by local identities, shopping at your nearest Chemist Warehouse is not shopping local as it's owned offshore. If you are looking for a gift like perennial favourites GHD hair straighteners, Chemist Warehouse may have the stock and a price but it's not the same as buying GHDs from your preferred hairdresser or New Zealand owned and operated specialist like The Beauty Store.
GHDs, like other hot-ticket items this year, are at the mercy of global supply chains which is why placing your order and accepting the item is on back order or buying a voucher is the next best thing to wrapping the item up. The purchase of a dinner voucher or similar gives our local businesses a vote of support, a signal of our faith and our goodwill. It may not seem like much to us, but for them, no sale is too small nor is it unappreciated.
It's important to give our locally owned retailers and hospitality venues a chance to succeed. New Zealand is a country of small businesses and this year it's right that we look to support our business owners and their staff who have faced setbacks, frustrated customers, stock shortages, abuse around extended delivery times and whose staff may now have to check vaccination statuses too.
Surely, we can embrace wavy beach hair or survive not unwrapping the latest gadget on Christmas Day if it means that our retailers, hospitality venues and their staff will survive past the trials of 2021.