With the year rapidly coming to an end, time is running out for residents hoping to get goods delivered on time.

The pandemic-induced supply chain snarls have created unprecedented shortages across all types of products, from the chips that go into gaming consoles to more mundane items like ties and pajamas.

On Cyber Monday — the biggest online shopping day of the year — the prevalence of out-of-stock messages rose 8% compared to a week earlier, according to Adobe Digital Economy Index. From November 1 through November 29, the number of out-of-stock messages soared close to twofold compared with pre-pandemic levels in January 2020 and up 258% from November 2019, Adobe said.

A lot is at stake for retailers. Holiday sales are expected to be up anywhere between 8.5% to 10.5% for the November-December period, compared with the year-ago period, according to the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group.

Many industry analysts believe the supply chain issues will not be resolved until next year.

However, Santa Monica has a secret weapon in the battle for guaranteed, on-time gifts: shopping locally.

“If you’re looking for last-minute ideas, there’s all this great stuff in town,” said Economic Development Director Jennifer Taylor. “Our businesses have gifts in stock and with the overall supply shortages, they will have items on shelves that you can put under the tree.”

Buy Local is also offering a clearinghouse of local gift ideas through their website and social media channels.

Businesses can submit items for the Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide through their website or by tagging Buylocal SM on social media. Residents can browse the guide (http://www.buylocalsantamonica.com/tistheseason21) or search for find posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter under BuylocalSM.

While local stores might not have a particular item on the shelf, there’s no guarantee online retailers will have it in a warehouse or that it can arrive on time and that could be a boon for physical stores. Experts say that the pandemic trained shoppers to try new brands and items when their first choice couldn’t be found. For example, when consumer product makers and essential retailers saw a huge run on toilet paper in the spring of 2020, it forced shoppers to abandon the brands they’d been loyal to and seek out alternatives.

Local store owners are hoping the goods and services they do have available can meet the pent-up demand in a way that brings more long-term business back to the local economy.

The economic benefits of spending at local stores are well known. About 70 cents of each dollar spent in Santa Monica stays here. That money is used to keep essential services up and running, including local parks and libraries, while also funding local teachers and school counselors.

However, Councilwoman and small businesses owner Lana Negrete said supporting small businesses is actually about supporting local culture as it’s the entrepreneurs that embody the city’s culture.

“I feel like those businesses either tell a story of our past because they’ve been here and they’re legacy businesses or they also tell the story of where we’re going because there’s a lot of new pop up small businesses that are kind of telling us who we are as a culture in Santa Monica,” she said.

She said the economic transaction is only part of the reason residents benefit from local stores as the stores are where the community is built, especially in our current cultural moment where personal relationship building has been rare and engaging with people in person is almost a novelty.

“I think shopping in brick and mortar is actually becoming more attractive because you get to get back to the touch and feel of items, of being able to experience what you’re going to purchase upfront,” she said. “And you get to engage with people and I think we’re craving that now that we’ve had to be away for people for so long.”

Those moments can have lasting effects on individuals who begin to feel a sense of connection to their community based on the interaction.

“So when they leave, it’s not just the transaction, they’ve had a conversation,” she said. “They’ve gotten to know the person working a little bit better. And they feel really good about spending their money locally because they’re speaking to the people in the store in a different way. They’re very connected to people that work here and live in Santa Monica.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...