Retailers’ holiday inventory planning has been fraught with unpleasant supply-chain surprises for two straight years. This year’s gift: Things are back to normal.
In 2021, shipping delays meant retailers didn’t have enough stuff on their shelves to meet demand. And last year, scarred by those experiences, shops made the mistake of over-ordering merchandise—sending their shelves overflowing and forcing them to sell goods at margin-eroding discounts. A basket of retailers in the S&P 500 saw operating margins fall to 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from 5.6% a year earlier.
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