There may be still nearly three months to the big day, but some of the biggest toy stores, furniture retailers and clothing outlets have already issued warnings about product availability. Amanda Ratcliffe from TU Dublin joined the Today With Claire Byrne show on RTÉ Radio 1 to discuss the global supply chain issues behind the story. (This piece includes excerpts from the conversation which have been lightly edited for length and clarity - full discussion can be heard above).

The reason for the warnings, says Ratcliffe, is that this is not a normal year. "We're now a good 18 months into the effects of the pandemic and it is fair to say that those effects really have created huge disruption in global supply chains. All retailers ultimately depend on the supply chains to guarantee product on shelves. When you've got problems in the supply chains, and there are massive problems in the supply chains at the present, that is going to create shortages in-store, unfortunately, for consumers.

IKEA are one of the retailers who've been out early, warning customers thay up to 10% of their lines won't be available in Ireland. "One major sector that was impacted by lockdown was homeware", explains Ratcliffe. "Consumers were stuck in their homes and started to put more thought into what they really wanted from their homes. Either they had to create new spaces, new play spaces, or educating at home spaces, or workspaces, or they just wanted to have a more pleasant environment so, of course, demand for certain types of comforting homeware then definitely increased.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

From RTÉ Radio 1's The Business, Siofra Mulqueen on how Christmas started bypassing Halloween

"No more than anybody else, IKEA would source a lot of their product in Asia, so they are also definitely impacted by this increased demand and this kind of supply crunch. Because supply chains are very complex and very long - and particularly when you've got them organised on a global scale - they don't fix quickly. There's no quick fix. You've got these huge shipping containers, and when they're slowed up or they're blocked in ports, you get delays."

Ratcliffe says the same logic applies to toys as they're complex products. "As consumers, we go in to buy our Barbie, or our Lego and we take it for granted that this is manufactured by Mattel or Lego, and made in whatever country and that's really sort of all we need to know. But, of course, it's much more complex than that. Mattel or Lego are going to have sub-suppliers, networks of suppliers on a global scale.

"What's amazing is that it generally works so well. And that's because companies really invest a huge amount in their supply chains and, of course, in information flows. But when you get the situation that we've had over the last year and a half, it's really a perfect storm. It is a case of anything that can go wrong has gone wrong."

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

From RTÉ 1's Prime Time, Louise Byrne reports on how the global supply chain crisis will hit Christmas products in your local shops

Similar problems have cropped up in the fashion sector. "As we know, Penneys don't sell online and they really depend on selling in-store and they're very good at it", says Ratcliffe. "But in order to be able to do that, you have to have product to sell. Penneys source a huge amount of product from Asia and, again, if the product isn't coming through, they will not have product on shelves. And with high-fashion items, you're going to miss the season."

So the moral of the story really is to buy early? "The period from September to Christmas in any normal year, is by far the busiest for retailers. They make a high proportion of their profitable income during those months because consumers naturally start getting ready for Christmas. If there's something specific that you know that you really want, don't take a chance on it."