Due to supply chain challenges caused by an uptick in consumer demand during the pandemic, retailers are in for a challenging holiday season. Many are urging their customers to start their holiday shopping early to ensure they get their desired items on time.
The local Seattle and Tacoma ports have a major backlog of container ships right now, as more than a dozen are waiting to dock and get unloaded. The global logistics chain itself is being stretched to its limits in both costs and timing. A shipping container traveling from Shanghai to Seattle would only cost $1,500 and arrive in about two weeks pre-pandemic. Now, those costs have risen to $20,000 per container, and the blockage at ports is causing a delay of several weeks to move goods into stores. Capacities are being stretched in the rail and freight trucking systems as well.
Many local retailers, especially those that sell imported, boutique, or custom items, are feeling this crunch in their inventory supply chains this Fall. Customers should be prepared to request items early and have some patience and flexibility if the specific item they want is out-of-stock. Retailers are scrambling to provide alternatives and meet demands as quickly as possible.