Retail Stores Feel the Pinch of Cargo Caught in Transit Limbo

Ocala Star-Banner “Retailers gearing up for their annual sales push for the December holidays are being forced to wait longer than usual this year for Asian-made goods that – thanks to a backup of cargo ships, railroads and truck lines – are sluggishly making their way from ports to warehouses and ultimately, to shoppers.

Rapid growth in imports from countries like China and India, up as much as 20 percent from a year ago, has added to the congestion at major West Coast ports like Long Beach, Calif. At the same time, port officials say they are shorthanded when it comes to unloading containers, and others involved in shipping say rail lines and trucking companies are also overextended.

Some retailers will not discuss the situation, while others play down its impact. It appears unlikely that goods aimed at holiday shoppers will remain out of reach through the holidays, but costs may rise for retailers who resort to air freight or pay premiums on steamship lines to get those products to American shores and into their stores.

The peak season for holiday-focused importing lasts from July through mid-November.

Cargo handlers and retailers acknowledge delays of several days to several weeks. Shoppers, meanwhile, are receiving notices that advise, ‘Your item is on back order,’ with delivery indicated in late November in some cases. “

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