The US supply chain delays have reached critical mass. The delays have reached a point where some shippers haven given up hope that their product will be available for the holiday season. This will be especially devastating to small shippers that rely heavily on holiday sales to survive.
Three months ago, the big obstacle was finding space on container ships. While space is still very tight, the big obstacle today is getting your product off the ship once it reaches a US port. The backlog of ships outside of West Coast ports waiting to be unloaded continues to get worse with each passing day. To help alleviate some of the backlog, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are offering incentives to large retailers and truckers to use night and weekend gates. So far, adding night and weekend gates has had little impact on the clearing the backlog.
Small shippers have few options but to wait out the current supply chain crisis. This is not the case with large retailers. The supply chain problems are so bad, several large retailers decided the only option to keep product flowing is by charting their own ships. Chartering ships is a very expensive option that only the largest retailers could attempt to even consider. Executives working for these companies say it is the only way to ensure key products can be made available for the upcoming holiday season. The total costs involved in chartering a ship from China to the US are significant. It should be expected that these costs will be passed along to the customer.
In past years, the big concern for most shippers was having product available for Black Friday. Meeting the Black Friday deadline is not going to happen for many shippers this year. Consumers have been told to buy early this year. Those waiting for Black Friday deals will likely be disappointed or even shocked on the scarcity of certain products.