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Out-of-stock problems for online shopping are getting worse


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By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business

If you’ve already started your online holiday shopping this year, you may be seeing a lot more of those three dreaded words every shopper hates: “out of stock.”

There were more than 2 billion instances of a product being out of stock online across 18 categories tracked in October by Adobe Analytics, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the company. That’s up 33% over the same month a year ago and 325% since October 2019.

If you’re currently shopping online, one in every 50 pages you visit will show an out-of-stock message, the company said. In January 2020, before the pandemic, it was closer to one in every 140 pages, the company said.

Among the product categories that are facing the highest out-of-stock levels are electronics, jewelry, clothing, home and garden items and goods for pets, the report said.

The Adobe report analyzed over 1 trillion online visits to a majority of the top 100 US web retailers. The data on out-of-stock items online was obtained from merchants who use Adobe Analytics products to track purchases.

A stalled global supply chain is preventing retailers from getting timely shipments of products that they badly need to stock up for the all-important holiday shopping rush.

Hundreds of thousands of containers filled with goods made overseas are still stuck at US ports, unable to be unloaded because of shortages of trailers and truck drivers to move the goods.

The supply chain meltdown is not only causing concern about certain product shortages in the weeks ahead but is also prompting some companies to raise prices on items that are already in stores. Executives from Walmart, Target and Home Depot met with President Joe Biden last month to try to find solutions for the problems impacting retailers and shippers.

Industry sources described the effort as a move that will help, but hardly end the supply chain crisis that’s hovering ominously over the US economy this holiday shopping season.

If there is a silver lining, it’s that consumers are showing they are still in a mood to spend after being cautious and curtailing their spending in 2020. The most recent data from the Commerce Department showed retail sales in September grew 0.7% from the month earlier, beating economists’ forecast for a 0.2% decline.

— CNN Business’ Matt Egan and Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report

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