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09/20/2021

Sounding the Alert on U.S. Supply Chain Congestion

Professor Patrick Penfield
Whitman School of Management
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Last week, the United States set a record for having 65 container ships waiting to be unloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which is causing more strain and stress for the U.S. supply chain. One-third of shipments to the United States flow through those two ports and the average transit time from China to the United States is now 71 days, compared to 40 days in 2019.

We are now seeing a 25-to-30-day delay trying to clear these shipments from the docks. Many retailers will be struggling to fill their shelves for the holiday season. Hard-to-find items will include sneakers, electronic consumer products and any goods coming from places like China and Malaysia.  I believe the backup at the ports will ease, but not until after the holidays. Ideally, to ensure products needed for the holiday season arrive in time, orders should have been placed earlier than normal.

"Working with a freight forwarder could help with these delivery issue since they are experts at moving goods especially through the port system"

This will be a stressful time for retailers who depend on getting inventory for holiday sales. One of the difficulties when buying goods from overseas is to know when you will be receiving these items. Working with a freight forwarder could help with these delivery issue since they are experts at moving goods especially through the port system.

Trying to buy products locally, selling alternative products and gift cards could help retailers with the current holiday season.  Retailers need to get creative on what products they can sell if they are waiting on shipments. The holiday shopping season will happen and plenty of revenue and profits can be made if they act now with alternative products and services to sell.  

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