Crowded Ports Could Delay Holiday Shipments

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Ports on every US coast are full to bursting.

With the holiday season fast approaching, and more importantly, Black Friday only a month away, the major retailers of the United States are scrambling to get their seasonal stock ready to shelve on a moment’s notice. However, not unlike other major world ports, sea ports on all coasts of the US have been beset by major delays. Container ships have been trying to dock at major ports in New York and California for days, only to find no spaces available. As such, around 250,000 containers of random goods are idling at sea, waiting for a turn.

“There’s no room to put this cargo. Our docks are full. People need to come and pick up their cargo,” Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told CBS. “Only half the truck drivers registered to do business here visit us at least once a week. We need more drivers on the job.”

Truck drivers have countered that the ports are running too slowly, with a single pickup taking as long as seven hours and lasting well into the night. Major ports like the Port of Los Angeles have been forced to extend their hours, though they’re not operating 24 hours a day just yet.

“You’ve got so many nodes of the supply chain that have to get on the same schedule. If we can get the warehouses to open around the clock, that would be important to us,” Seroka said.

These shipping delays are starting to cast a question mark on stability of retailers when the holiday shopping season arrives. Smaller retailers have run through the majority of their stock, with nearly everything they have already out on the shelves. Larger retailers like Walmart have been forced to charter private shipping vessels of their own, though these vessels are just as vulnerable to the choked ports as all of the others.

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