This school year, you may want to go ahead and start stocking up on school supplies now to get what’s in stock out there. Why?
Well, experts are predicting another round of shortages, but this time it’s not because manufacturers can’t keep up with demand. No, it’s another phenomenon caused by COVID and the ensuing lockdowns. Bottlenecks at our ports.
On the west coast, container ships filled with product are anchoring and having to wait at least 7 ½ days before they can dock and start the unloading process. Just in April, there was an average of 30 container ships anchored off one of the ports on the California coast. The normal average is 0-1 ships anchoring.
These ships are filled with products that have mostly been ordered online. With the majority of people being stuck at home and having extra cash from the Federal stimulus payouts, online sales have exponentially increased. To meet the increased demand, more ships than normal have been arriving at US ports containing more cargo than normal. It’s been estimated that there are 31% more ships arriving in ports than in January 2020 and these ships are carrying 49% more containers.
Along with these massive import volumes, there is another factor creating a huge problem: the shortage of longshore labor. Between workers being out with COVID, or out due to contact tracing, there has been a shortage of laborers who can unload vessels and transport cargo to its varied destinations. This shortage spreads from terminal and warehouse personnel to forklift drivers, trucks, trains, etc.
Add to this shortage the coming of peak season, which is projected to start earlier than normal this year, and a strong back to school push, and you’ve got a recipe for shortages, not only of school supplies but across all categories. (Kind of makes you want to advocate for more products “Made in America.”)
So, don’t wait till the mad rush to get school supplies. Start collecting what you need now while stores still have stock on their shelves.