Eileen Cook had something on her Christmas list, even she admits it was “boring” – a vacuum cleaner to clean the hair of her two dogs.

The Vancouver-based novelist began looking for deals around Black Friday on November 26, growing on time for many Canadians do their Christmas shopping as retailers offer deep discounts.

But after choosing a Dyson vacuum with a $ 150 discount the day before Black Friday, she found out how the province unprecedented flood had hamstrings Supply chain.

Cook was greeted with an error message stating, “Due to the current situation in British Columbia, we are unable to ship any product into the province at this time. She eventually had to resort to another retailer.

As well as illustrating the effects of British Columbia’s supply chain woes, recent delivery delays have left some like Cook wondering if we really need to buy so much online – and for the holiday season in particular. .

Cook says his experience with the vacuum cleaner has been instructive of a larger trend – online delivery making shopping so much easier that it has become a “habit.”

“When we can’t do something like that, it’s all of a sudden really surprising and it makes you realize how fragile sometimes all systems are,” she said.

Delivery problems in British Columbia stem from torrential rains that hit the southwestern part of the province from November 13 to 15, causing widespread flooding and landslides that washed out major highways and cut rail lines .

A month later, Canada Post, the country’s largest delivery provider, said the province’s “fragile” roads were still affecting their ability to move mail and packages to, out and around the province, affecting traffic. Christmas deliveries.

“We have various contingency plans in place to move items into and out of British Columbia as well as into the interior of British Columbia through various channels,” a spokesperson for Canada Post said in a statement.

A view of damage to part of the Coquihalla Highway after mudslides near Coldwater River Provincial Park in mid-November. The highway is critical to the transportation of goods in the province and damage to the route contributes to delivery delays. (British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure / Reuters)

Holiday sales on the rise

But some wonder if we should be buying so much in the first place.

Author JB MacKinnon says British Columbia’s supply chain problems have been compounded by online shopping and delivery.

MacKinnon, whose book The day the world stops shopping examines the impact of consumerism on the planet and what would happen if large-scale shopping simply stopped, says vacation shopping across Canada has increased over the past decade.

He also pointed out US statistics which showed that spending there increased by nearly 50% from 2010 to 2020.

“I think people must be wondering, 10 years ago, was there something bad about Christmas that forced us to [significantly increase] consumer spending to make it a more satisfying vacation? ”he said.

“I don’t think anyone is going to seriously answer that question with a ‘yes’.”

MacKinnon says many polls over the years have shown Canadians that Christmas is too commercialized.

But he said there was a “tension” between this awareness and reality – the systems of commercialism and capitalism leading to vacation buying.

“As much as people can wish Christmas was less commercial… they want to celebrate Christmas in a way that everyone celebrates Christmas,” he said.

MacKinnon’s research has also shown that consumerism actively contributes to the planet’s climate crisis.

Despite corporate efforts to “green the crisis” by aiming for zero carbon, MacKinnon says investments in technologies such as renewables will not help overcome emissions generated by the manufacture and sale of consumer products.

In light of the climate catastrophe experiences in British Columbia in 2021 – including recent flooding and the deadly “heat dome” of late June – he wants people to start thinking actively about reducing their consumption for the good of the planet.

“The way I think that’s changing is that we’re starting this conversation about actually reducing consumption and building a less consuming society,” he said.

“Start moving in this direction as individuals, as businesses and through the power of government.”

Canada Post has advised online shoppers to buy local during the holidays, saying small businesses have “one-size-fits-all” options as delivery issues plague large retailers.

MacKinnon also advises shoppers this holiday season to consider “circular savings” that offer second-hand goods, such as thrift stores and classifieds websites, as well as quality items that don’t wear out. at once.

“Buy less, buy better,” he said.