Have you noticed that a lot of items you want or need aren’t waiting for you at Target, in furniture stores, or department stores like they normally are? It’s not your imagination, we’re in the midst of a massive supply chain crisis that will continue into and well past the holiday shopping season.
Right now, off the coast of Los Angeles is jam of cargo ships waiting to get into port and unload goods. On Friday there were 44 container carriers anchored, and patiently waiting for space outside the two ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Patience is not just a virtue for the cargo vessels, it’s a requirement. The average wait time was 6.2 days two weeks ago, now it’s 7.6 days according to a story in Bloomberg.
The problem isn’t just in the ocean, what’s happening on the ground is exacerbating the issues. Trucks and railroads can’t move the cargo fast enough into the warehouses and distribution centers.
Another problem is a lack of labor. There’s a critical shortage of truck drivers, and shipping and logistic companies are trying desperately to ramp up hiring before the mad rush of the holiday season begins.
The months of August and September are the critical months that retailers look to get goods out of China so they can be ready for holiday shopping.
There’s another problem that’s contributing to the crisis, and that’s the pandemic. Complete chaos can occur if a group of people that are key to the shipping distribution chain test positive and have to miss work.
The 44 ships waiting in Southern California is an all-time record, beating the 40 that were anchored there in February. And things aren’t much better in Seattle, San Francisco, and East Coast ports that bring in goods.