Speed Reads

supply chain

The United States has a port problem

The California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together move a significant of all U.S. imports, are experiencing major shipping delays and cargo backlogs as businesses are trying to restock their inventories that took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The situation means, among other things, that companies like Nike have a lower-than-normal amount of shoes to sell during the holiday season,  limits on paper towel purchases have returned at chains such as Costco, and prices for items like artificial Christmas trees have jumped, The Wall Street Journal notes.

So, what's the solution? There's not one answer, unfortunately — per the Journal, different sectors of the supply chain have varying opinions of what the source of the problem is. For instance, some people are pushing to operate the ports 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a common practice in Europe and Asia. The Port of Long Beach is going to try that strategy from Monday to Thursday, but the Port of Los Angeles is sticking with its existing hours because "it has been nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page" about such a change, Gene Seroka, the port's executive director, told the Journal

Skeptics say that the 24/7 approach won't matter unless there are enough trucks to pick up the cargo, and right now that's not the case, with 30 percent of overall truck appointments not being met, the Journal reports. "The biggest issue it probably comes down to is labor," Tom Boyle, the chief executive of trucking and warehouse provider Quick Pick LLC, said. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.