Shortages…..what do you mean? We are not in the middle of a bloody war !

National archives (Note: Fires not Fries)

Toilet rolls …No. Sanitisers ….No. Pasta….No. Chips….Yes.

Now before you start calling your local chippy and Pre-Ordering your month’s requirements or buying a new freezer to keep a years worth of frozen chips, it is not the tasty sort we are talking about.

Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Volkswagen, Tesla to name but a few are cutting back on production because there is a shortage of semi conductor chips that are used in modern day vehicles. This has come about because during the pandemic there was a huge drop in demand from the automotive industry so chip makers switched to chips for laptops, electronic gadgets, and mobile devices etc as the demand spiralled .

Yet this is just the tip of a veritable iceberg. Just go into your local supermarkets, and look carefully at the shelves, you will start to see a lot of stuff missing . Construction materials , medicines, bikes, and many food products are just a growing list of products that are going to be hard to get over the next six months .

The construction materials shortage has impacted self builders, renovators and DIYers, and further problems are expected

Jack Woodfield Homebuilding & Renovating

There is currently a global shortage of raw material shortages, stemming from global demand and other external factors (including the slowdown and in some instances, factory closures, outside the UK), which continues to constrain production of certain products, such as insulation, paints and adhesives, as well as packaging for products.

Jack Woodfield Homebuilding & Renovating

Samsung warns chip crisis could lead to shortage in TVs and home gadgets

Samsung’s chip division saw profits drop after it had to close vital US factories in February James Cook ,Telegraph April 2021

A combination of covid, major supply chain disruption , demand changes , cost and organisational issues within world shipping have created that oft used phrase a perfect storm.

What may come as a little bit of a surprise to some (but not perhaps those within our own industry ) is that you may not be able to not be able to pop into your local Party store , or your favourite party web site and buy the latex balloon of your dream. The worlds latex balloon manufactures are being faced with exactly the same problems as that of rest of worlds supply chain.

  • Extraordinary demand (throughout Covid)
  • Shortages of raw materials
  • Manufacturing limitations due to covid restrictions
  • Shipping disruptions

The following is an an extract from a statement put out by the Balloon Council of America (Organisation representing major Latex Balloon Manufacturers in the Americas.)

Industry Update: Growth and Supply Chain Impact
It has been over a year since the pandemic began impacting our lives and business. As leaders in the balloon
community, it is important that we address the disruptions in the supply chain that the industry continues to
Although we are shipping large quantities of balloons, we have seen a marked increase in demand and the reality
is COVID-19 continues to impact all segments of our industry. Some of the challenges that we faced early on
continue to cause disruptions and impact the overall business.
• COVID-19 has continued to impact employees. Safety is essential. In many companies, new work rules,
social distancing, and physical barriers have been necessary to ensure a safe work environment and these
changes usually mean a reduction of efficiency and output. We have also faced challenges in finding and
retaining employees during these challenging times.
• Balloons are an element of a global supply chain, and many suppliers, both here in the U.S. and overseas
that we don’t control, have been similarly hit, impacting their ability to deliver raw materials or services.
This has been an ongoing issue in the past year.
• The whole supply chain, including freight companies, continues to struggle to operate efficiently and has
not been as predictable pre-COVID-19.
We know this is frustrating for balloon buyers at all levels. Manufacturers, related products suppliers, and
distributors are doing everything in our power to ramp up volume and responsiveness. TBC members are trying
hard to control the things we can, such as increasing production capacity, asking our employees to work overtime
and recruiting additional workers.
It will take more time for the supply chain to reset but we are tirelessly working to achieve our goal to return to
pre-COVID-19 service levels as quickly as we are able.
The global vaccination effort currently underway offers a beacon of hope that a return to normality is a possibility
in the not-so-distant future. That said, every day we are hearing stories about new variants that may or may not
respond to the existing vaccines. Few expected the pandemic would be this severe for this long, and none of us can
really project when its impact to industry will be over.
Balloons have brought joy to many people throughout the pandemic. As an industry, we are committed to doing
everything possible to get business back to pre-COVID-19 service levels. We are all working to make that day come
soon, and our teams won’t be satisfied until we achieve that.
Thank you on behalf of all the manufacturers and distributors who are TBC members for your patience and
understanding during these challenging times.

I make no apologies about the length of this specific extract as hopefully it will be of interest to the odd reader who is involved within the party industry and it would be remiss of me if I did not highlight these problems, particular as this product has put food on the plates in our household for many years.

Moreover, these issues are the very same (or similar) facing the entire supply chain in many product areas.

Most consumers wont even notice , or rather they may have difficulty in getting their brand , but there will be an alternative. Yet higher up the supply chain, the pain will be greater. Because of the way the supply chain operates in most markets, it is just not that straightforward in finding another supplier.

What does of course happen when supply dips , and demand remains constant or increases then so do prices.

Yet we are not at war. Well maybe we are in a sense, of all trying to fight a virus, which is complex enough but then putting into the mix the complexities of world trade, there is a inevitably about the impact of the supply of goods and services. Despite this ‘inevitability’ , none of us actually know what is going to happen from day to day . So if you cant get exactly what you want today, but you want exactly what you want, hang on a bit and you will probably get it. If you don’t want to wait buy something else.

High Street Dying? ….or maybe it’s just started to Live ?

Dying …..The High Street


We, apparently don’t want shops anymore but we want more places to live.

It has been muted that because of the demise of the High Street, planning laws will be altered to enable developers to turn shops into living according accommodation. Shock and Horror.

There are those who say this would be the final straw.

Stink of fish and chips , smells of curry, and stale Chinese food, the aromatic drift of the kebab shop and dry cleaners fumes are a number of the attractions for decades, of living on the High Street (perhaps not High Street Kensington, for those who know about such things).

Living on the High Street is not a new concept , albeit it has never been something that has really been thought about in a considered manner. People go into shops and people live on High Streets and the very same people will, on occasion, go into the shops those very same shops.

What I have noticed in my area during during the last 12 months, new retailers who had just started before the first lockdown or have planned opening for the very first time post lockdown. We are not talking national multiples, we are talking local independents, that is to say people who know the area , what the local consumer wants and where possible sourcing local product, and have built a model during a retail crisis including sophisticated web sites. Within our industry I saw this happen during the financial crisis and it is happening, in a different way again.

There is a whole bunch of stuff that good local independents and good local consumers living next door to each other are a perfect mix. On an environmental level alone, it makes good sense that people shop where they live (or indeed live where they shop!)

Almost three in five British consumers have made more use of local stores in their area to help them through the Coronavirus lockdown, according to research from business consultancy Deloitte Digital.

The study from late May 2020, also found that almost the same proportion said they will be more likely to spend at shops offering locally-produced goods once the lockdown has fully lifted, compared to before the pandemic hit.

So we’re likely to see a change in shopping habits, with customers more likely to shop local. (Deloitte Digital)

Modern retailing in the UK (as we would sort of recognise it today) probably started way back in late 18th century (Debenhams was founded in 1778). It has , naturally, gone through enormous changes since then but probably none more so that during the last 12 months. Much of that involves online purchasing but not a little by the new independent retail entrepreneur having a better understanding of the consumer and seeing the opportunities that still exist. Perhaps ‘Still’ is the wrong word as many of the opportunities are completely new and did not exist 12 months ago. Maybe they did exist but they weren’t aware of them. By ‘They’ I mean both entrepreneur and consumer.

Our time in lockdown has changed our fundamental approach to life. Our attention has shifted towards supporting the local community, our families and the impact we can have on the world around us. Today, we are much more concerned with why we buy and whom we buy from than how quickly we can get what we’ve purchased.

Who we buy from and what that brand stands for are more important than ever before. Our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated our need and desire to feel good about our purchasing decisions. With few retail experiences open, events to attend, or activities to participate in, people are finding fulfilment in associating themselves with brands that do good. The trend towards brands communicating their virtuous behaviour to engage and build trust and loyalty with customers will have a tremendous impact in the future.

This goes beyond consumers’ baseline expectations of a brand’s approach to sustainability, inclusion and staff, to now include how brands support the social causes that they believe in. As brands move towards becoming the commercial and cultural pillars that society looks to for guidance, they are being asked by the public to wield their influence to have a positive impact beyond the products and services they sell.

The year ahead will undoubtedly see brands exploring how the physical store environment can be used to better engage customers in the causes that matter to their brand most. Showing kindness and empathy to your staff, community and customers will outpace customer experience, convenience and price as the key drivers of brand differentiation.

Retail Focus April 2021

I can only see, if planned properly, the High St, having a greater proportion of people actually living on it, will be a more vibrant a much healthier place to live, physically as well as mentally. However, and it is a very big However, I can see this happening in the more affluent of High Streets. Once again the more socially deprived areas will not be so fortunate. Lucy’s Piquant Pale Ale Brewery, Doug’s Derby Dim Sum, or Sally’s Porcini Sourdough bakery will not be seeking their fortunes in these areas. Paddy Power, Denny’s Discount store, and the odd charity shop will prevail. These High Streets are the ones were the future is bleak. I am not sure there is an answer, for many of the locals even, or particularly, online will not be an option unless cheap workable broadband and then much cheaper technology making it accessible to all socio economic groups. None of which is on the immediate horizon. That said if the retailers are not going there surely it is better to make those empty premises into affordable living accommodation.

Courtesy of the BBC- Not a Good place to live
This looks very liveable but hardly a deprived city centre

Reality bites. Without change and reinvigoration and innovation the High Street is very much in danger of dying and part of that reinvigoration will be more people living there, for a whole bunch of reasons already stated. This, I believe, is specially true where the new breed of retailer are unlikely to venture and that are the poorest areas. With, potentially better housing conditions and more people, there will always be retailers who can develop suitable business models. But let it be done thoughtfully so the Living can stop every High Street from dying.

If the last 12 months has taught us nothing else, it is the impact socially and emotionally in not having a functioning High Street. If it (High St) shows a willingness to survive then we should do all we can to encourage its longevity.