FORT WORTH, Texas — Christmas is just under 100 days away, but supply chain and shipping experts say now is the time to buy presents.
Across the world, shipping delays are hitting record levels and a record number of container ships are waiting to unload off the southern California coast.
“[It’s] total chaos,” Hiram Hartnett, the vice president of sales at Pegasus Logistics said. “Business for us is booming.”
Pegasus Logistics is a global freight forwarder that helps move heavy and high-tech equipment.
“One little hiccup here or there can absolutely domino effect the entire supply chain,” Harnett said. “If you go back, 2019, you might have paid $2,000 for an ocean can. Right now, people are paying an upwards of $20,000.”
Shipping across the Pacific Ocean used to take 10 days in a fast ship, but it’s now up to two months.
“What we’ve seen in the United States the last few years, there have been more disruptions than I’ve seen in a very, very long time,” Dave Malefant, the director of outreach and partnerships at TCU’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation said. “The links in the supply chain are just broken.”
There are many causes. Severe weather across the United States, COVID-19 shutdowns both in the US and especially abroad, labor shortages and high consumer demand are all to blame.
“You’re already behind in getting your cargo to the states,” Harnett explained. “It comes into your [distribution center] or your warehouse location where you’re already short people. Demand is through the roof. It’s just every perfect storm that’s out there.”
Food and retail are being impacted the most, according to Malefant, and costs are skyrocketing with supply going to the highest bidder and the issue started even before the pandemic.
“Budgets for everybody have been blown out of the water,” Harnett said. “I mean if you were a supply chain manager with now, it’s like at this point I think they’re just forgiven for the inflation in the market.”
“If one of those links breaks, then the whole supply chain falls apart and we’re constantly seeing something break in the supply chain,” Malefant said.
UPS international president Scott Price told AFP in an interview, he’s also concerned about shortages and shipping prices.
"I half-jokingly tell people, 'Order your Christmas presents now because otherwise on Christmas day, there may just be a picture of something that's not coming until February or March,'" Price said.
“It’s paradise for the logistic companies right now because there’s more demand but our customers are suffering big time from it,” Hartnett said.
The best guess is it’ll take to the middle of 2022 to be sorted out. Hartnett says right now logistics companies are just making guesses to prepare for the demand and supply issues.
“It takes a long time to try to rebuild the links in the supply chain,” Malefant said.