Shanton Wilcox, PA Consulting’s US Manufacturing Lead, explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020. US businesses are now forced to wait months instead of the usual weeks for a delivery from China, and no one knows when the situation will be resolved.
The article notes that a trade bottleneck born of the COVID-19 outbreak has U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia — while off the coast of California, dozens of container ships sit anchored, unable to unload their cargo.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, when it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The seeds of the current problems were sown last March, when Americans stayed home and dramatically changed their buying habits — instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. U.S. companies responded by flooding reopened Asian factories with orders, leading to a chain reaction of congestion and snags at ports and freight hubs across the country as the goods began arriving.
Main Street businesses are now forced to wait months instead of the usual weeks for a delivery from China, and no one knows when the situation will be resolved. Owners do a lot of explaining to customers, order more inventory than usual and lower their expectations for when their shipments will arrive.
The cluster of ships offshore are perhaps the most dramatic symptom of an overwhelmed supply chain. As production surged in Asia, more ships began arriving in the fall at ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and other West Coast cities than the gateways could handle. Ships holding as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week. At times there have been as many as 40 ships waiting; normally, there’s no more than a handful, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, a service that monitors port traffic and operations.
Shanton says: “With this type of backlog, it will take several weeks to work through that. It doesn’t go away. And new ships are sailing to the U.S. even as we speak.”