LA and Long Beach Ports Still Crippled from Congestion

‘Tis the season to NOT be jolly if you’re looking for your holiday inventory. Congestion at US west coast ports continues to worsen in recent days with no letup in sight, according to logistics experts. The disruption to the supply chain could possibly continue for another six months.

“The west coast is the worst we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic. The unprecedented build up is alarming,” said Joe Monaghan, CEO of Worldwide Logistics Group.

Currently, shipping queues at the LA and Long Beach ports are at historic highs of more than 60 vessels awaiting unload. Vessels are now waiting up to three weeks to berth. The high level of delays is believed to be a main cause for the current shortages in container shipping capacity with vessels tied up and ports congested. The shortages in shipping capacity come as retailers continue to scramble to restock shelves depleted after months of lockdown while also bringing in good for the holiday season.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, although the ports haven’t release figures for shipping volumes in August, the predicted peak shipping season bust is looking to be a boom. The Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said the preliminary estimate for August showed 2.06 million loaded containers hit the US shores last month — the most in any months since the report was first published in 2002.

Another problem plaguing ports besides vessel backlog and high cargo demand is the processes surrounding getting cargo from the land-side brought on by shortages in trucks and chassis, labor strains and Covid-related disruptions.

With scarce space, high vessel congestion and under-capacity equipment issues, rates continue to soar with shippers and importers looking to pay all-time premium prices to get urgent cargo out from origins as quickly as possible.

“We recommend shippers to continue to book well in advance for the best chance of hitting delivery targets,” explained Mr. Monaghan. “When at all possible, book 4-6 weeks earlier than normal and remain as flexible as possible.”