RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Although Christmas is two months away, online retailers and the companies that ship their products are overwhelmed because the pandemic has caused an increase in online purchasing.
A local expert in supply chain logistics and shipping suggests you start your online holiday shopping right now.
"Given that we're in a pandemic and we're already seeing these increasing trends of online shopping, it should be very interesting to see both how retailers and shippers handle it this Christmas," Tim Kraft told ABC 11.
Kraft is an associate professor at North Carolina State University and studies supply chain logistics.
It's a subject many of us became familiar with when we had trouble finding toilet paper.
"The pandemic really has been kind of supply chain's moment to be honest. I've had many relatives all of a sudden realize and start to understand what I actually do," said Kraft.
Many in the online shopping world were anticipating the busiest holiday season yet in 2020, after Christmas 2019.
But they didn't anticipate the pandemic.
Kraft said online shopping stats are incredible.
"I've seen recent numbers that the increase in sales to this time last year is 40% higher this year as compared to last year."
And while delivery times don't seem that bad right now, Kraft noted that each day closer to the holidays will mean an exponential increase in shipping volumes.
"The system currently is already overwhelmed. So once we get to the holiday season, this could be, I think, for shippers in particular, you're going to see a real stress on their system," he said, "I think any consumer that's planning to do online shopping, I actually would highly recommend that they start now."
Shipping companies traditionally hire temporary workers for the holidays.
But Kraft said, they've already ramped up to those employment levels because of the pandemic.
"These demand levels we're seeing are so high that there's no amount of temp labor that you can throw at it because the facilities and the trucks and the planes and the equipment, that's really what's becoming the bottleneck. And there's only so much demand that we can run through these facilities or ship out on these trucks."
Thanks to the pandemic, there's likely more than the usual amount of stress this holiday season.
Don't add to that by waiting to order gifts online.
Shipping expert: Start online holiday shopping now