There were a few things on our shopping list as we set off for the mall on Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon isn’t a great time to go mall crawling; lots of people all hurrying before the weekend. But the moving masses of humanity in the aisles and walkways weren’t the problem. The problem turned out to be the things we wanted to buy, things we purchase regularly: groceries, personal items, and, on this occasion, a CD which had been advertised since October last year.
When it came to the grocery items, the shelves had very few of the basic foodstuffs we were looking for. I asked one of the assistants if any of the items were in the storeroom. “No, sir,” I was informed, “the suppliers haven’t delivered since Christmas-time.” Next: off to a music outlet in search of the CD for a forthcoming birthday. Nothing in stock. A phone call to the supplier established they would not be delivering new stock until the end of January at the earliest. This presumes that not a single soul in Bloemfontein would want any new music or DVDs for several weeks after the silly season. But what about those who received gift vouchers, for example? Wouldn’t they like to get their Christmas goodies before Easter?
Then we went to collect a book we had ordered; the suppliers had assured the retailers they would send it not later than the middle of January. With travelling time, it would be in our sticky little fingers by 19 January. A firm date! Wonderful. It was several days later when we popped in. “Still on order,” we were told, but the assistant kindly offered to phone the suppliers. The outcome? No earlier than the first week in February! Final destination: the pharmacy. My wife explained what she was looking for. “Ah yes. Out of stock! Suppliers haven’t delivered this month.” Are suppliers so indifferent to profit?
Imagine the possible headlines: It’s February and Christmas stock is now in store! Santa Claus is coming … whenever. He’s got problems with his suppliers! Tough luck, kiddo!