The container shipping industry remains in the doldrums thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It hammered shipments earlier, as we noted in these pages: and its ongoing effects are creating long-term problems for shippers and their customers. GCaptain reports:
From sportswear maker Puma to mall stalwart Gap , many retailers have been forced to reduce or slow down shipments of new merchandise. Civil unrest in the United States has compounded their problems by further clouding the prospect for a recovery in the world’s biggest retail sales market.
Puma’s Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden, for example, said it was managing some of its excess inventory by stowing it on slow-going ships as stores in the United States and Europe tentatively reopen.
However, at the same time, the shipping slowdown has created headaches for those retailers, from Walmart and Amazon to shoe seller Rothy’s, who have never stopped selling products to homebound consumers, ranging from books and shoes to exercise equipment, much of it sold online.
Now those retailers are fighting for space on the fewer, faster-moving ships on the high seas.
. . .
Slower shipping times also means importers can delay payments made on delivery . . . Shereen Zarkani, Maersk’s global head of sales, told Reuters: “One customer told us: If you make my container go around the world a couple of times that would be good.”
. . .
There does not appear to be any let-up in sight for container shipping companies as their retail clients could still be feeling acute financial pain in July, when they begin placing orders for holiday and winter merchandise.
There's more at the link.
I've noticed the effects of shipping disruptions in a number of areas. For example, there was a particular part I needed in my ongoing efforts to rebuild some older rifles for friends. I ordered it in mid-April, but found it was out of stock at the time. The manufacturer was waiting on a couple of injection-molded plastic components from an overseas supplier, which they would then build into the finished product. Their supplier had the parts, but couldn't find shipping space to send them. I was notified just this morning that the part I needed is finally in stock, and my order is in the process of being fulfilled. That's a seven-week wait, for a part that's normally available 24/7/365! I know I wasn't their only frustrated customer. It's yet another example of how "just-in-time" manufacturing can grind to a halt if supplies of parts and components don't reach the factory on a regular basis.
The after-effects of the coronavirus pandemic are going to be with us for at least the rest of this year, and probably well into 2022. Be prepared for that.