On Sunday, a Chinese container vessel will navigate its way through the expanded locks, in what shippers around the world hope will be the first of many successful passages by today’s larger commercial ships. It’s been a long time coming for shipping lines especially, many of whom have invested heavily in the 14,000 TEU capacity vessels that the expanded waterway is designed for.
West Coast importers are feeling the burn of a labor dispute dating back to the middle of last year.
Unfortunately, the culprit depends on your perspective and no-one’s quite sure just how much it’s hurting. What everyone agrees is that the sooner the dispute is over, the sooner the supply chain can get back to business as usual.
Workers at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach are out of contract, demanding new terms and accusing their management counterparts of organizing insufficient labor, while they themselves are accused of deliberately slowing down operations to influence a decision in their favor.
The dispute spilled out of the office and on to the docks over the holidays, disrupting daily operations and delaying stock movements that some retailers were relying on for their sales during this crucial period. Even so, not everyone is aware of the congestion and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith believes it has been underestimated, telling the LA Times:
“The slowdown in the West Coast ports has been a much bigger deal than people think. I suspect that you’ll see a lot of purchases of gift cards in lieu of merchandise.”
Regardless of who’s to blame, or the exact economic impact of the delays, no-one who relies on cargo coming in through Pacific shipping routes is happy. Congestion at North America’s busiest port – approximately 40% of all U.S. imports come in via Los Angeles – has a knock-on effect up and down the coast, delaying shipments and threatening the livelihoods of many as stock fails to arrive and customer orders aren’t filled.
So aside from waiting out the negotiations or shutting up shop, what options are open to businesses moving cargo into the country?
While it sounds like more of a personal lifestyle choice, a bi-coastal import solution is firmly rooted in logistics and is one of the more flexible ways to keep your business moving, if and when adverse weather, strikes or some other major issue gums up the works on one of the coasts.
We operate storage and distribution facilities out of both the Tri-state area (based in New Jersey) and Los Angeles for just that reason. If you come to Capacity with a question about the best way to bring cargo into the country, we can factor in the latest conditions and offer the most efficient route.
If it seems like the opposite coast would just take too much time, consider the visual presented in this article, with lines of container ships (now into double figures at times) struggling to even berth in Los Angeles. That’s thousands of containers just sitting in line, with limited resources – and perhaps dwindling desire – to unload them. Add to that the fact that night shifts were recently withdrawn and you have delay stretching from days and potentially into weeks, just to unload a vessel (which usually takes hours) and move products out of the port.
Even if everything is resolved soon, the port’s past (and the nature of this business called logistics that we love) suggests that it won’t be the last time this happens. Whether your products come in via the east or west, having the option to use either coast as a back up is an attractive alternative that might make all the difference when it comes to satisfying your customers.
We’ll keep you up to date on all the latest news and views from the port of Los Angeles, as well as other major issues emanating around our industry.
Continuing where we left off yesterday, the inability to provide Valentine’s Day flower deliveries snowballed into quite a media storm over the last 24 hours. And as the big day dawns, opinions seem to be varied as to just how well florists will be able to meet delivery demand today.
Over at CNN’s Fortune, the impact of snowstorm Pax is thought to be limited because the flowers have already arrived in the country and been cut, ready to order. Everyone knew that the storm was coming and most have made alternative delivery arrangements, whether before or at some point over the hastily adjusted “Valentine’s Weekend.” The adverse weather is a mere inconvenience at this point, they suggest.
The Washington Post, however, sees a much more difficult day ahead for florists desperate to make the most of the biggest day for their business. Their report tells of owners desperately making deliveries themselves, seeing every one as an opportunity to offset some of the inevitable lost sales.
Online orders also seem to be a mixed bag… bouquet.
Proflowers is sticking to the message that we reported yesterday, accepting no new delivery orders because of the storm. But main rival 1-800 Flowers seems to be sticking to business-as-usual, with Valentine’s Day delivery orders being accepted up to noon in each time zone.
And amid all of this weather confusion in the East, it’s perhaps comforting to know that the discussion on the West coast sticks to a good old-fashioned moan about exploitative Valentine’s pricing.
The truth will out over the next 12 hours or so as to just how much impact the snow has on flower deliveries. If you’re looking for a last-minute bouquet for your sweetheart on the East coast, though, we’d suggest getting a shovel and digging on over to your nearest store. Nothing says I love you like a five-hour trip to the florist!
U.S. retailers didn’t get any respite from a tough holiday season in January, as cold weather further deterred consumers, already low on confidence, from getting out of the house and into the stores.
The first month of the year can be a tough sell for shopping at the best of times, following the excesses of the holiday season and the belt-tightening resolutions that often accompany a New Year.
Even so, some retailers are reporting sales figures “significantly lower than expected,” as storm after storm batters the country and keeps consumers focused on only the essentials.
For a limited number of companies, like Costco or Walmart, bad weather can boost sales. People like to stock up before a storm and big box stores tend to be the most efficient way to do so. But for the wider retail environment snow means a slump, with travel either inadvisable or simply impossible.
And if you’re thinking that e-commerce is the answer around all of this disruption to bricks and mortar sales, think again.
Although the first part of the transaction can be completed online, the weather has been so bad that disruption to standard delivery services will also deter people from purchasing online. The general expectation that shipments won’t make it through in the current conditions is backed up by the likes of eBay issuing weather warnings.
Even Cupid can’t commit to his arrows hitting home, as flower delivery services admit defeat and take no new orders in some areas, at this their busiest time of year. This hard weather is also going to be hard on the heart.
As hard as the adverse weather is hitting our region, though, at Capacity we’re committed to keep on truckin’. When in doubt, grab a shovel, get digging, and get those shipments out on time!