Supply Chain Crisis Could Still Cancel Christmas

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Research out today suggests that shoppers are buying Christmas gifts earlier than usual because of worries about supply chain problems. However, data from project 44, the global leader in real-time supply chain visibility, indicates even this may not be enough to avoid some empty stockings.

While Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ isn’t yet playing on the radio, retailers are already seeing holiday season purchases picking-up. However, continued supply chain issues have some in the industry panicked that this year’s festivities may be impacted. A lack of capacity at the UK’s main port in Felixstowe is adding fuel to the fire as bottlenecks, labour shortages and ongoing covid related issues are causing the perfect storm for the transportation sector.

These supply chain issues aren’t going away, as maritime delays worsen, and rising cargo prices mean shippers won’t be able to buy their way out. According to container tracking data from project44, ocean carriers’ schedule reliability continues to decline, with delays of up to 30 days on the worst-hit China — EU routes, and 21.94 days on the worst-hit China-US West coast routes in September. While Felixstowe port, in the UK, was seeing some port of loading (POL) dwell times peak above 20 days in October, up from 4.5 days in January. If these circumstances hold, we’re going to see many more empty shelves heading into the holiday shopping season and beyond.

These latest numbers are a warning to shippers that they won’t be able to mitigate losses associated with delays and bottlenecks unless they have a complete and real-time view of vessel delays, ports, and carrier performances. Only with complete visibility over supply chains can issues be predicted and dealt with at the point they happen, ensuring that shelves are stocks and there are presents under the stress.