CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Experts say international shipping delays could cause problems this holiday season. The supply chain has been backed up for months due to the pandemic and peak retail season is approaching.
It comes down to a labor shortage in several industries as well as a high demand for products.
Retail therapy has become a source of solace for many throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the South Carolina Ports Authority, they have seen record cargo since March 2021.
Now a supply chain bottleneck is forcing longer shipping and delivery times as there are not enough workers to unload freighters or truck drivers to transport cargo from ports to their final destinations.
“The South Carolina Ports Authority didn’t know what to expect before the pandemic, so we didn’t hire last year,” said Kelsi Brewer of SC Ports.
Today, SC Ports is hiring 150 people on the operations side to try to keep up with the demand and speed up the process.
“A lot of the hiring we do is in progress. These are the stevedores, the crane operators, all those who transport the cargo to and from the ships or in the yard. That’s a lot of positions we’re recruiting for at the port, ”Brewer said.
Another factor disrupting the supply chain is the shortage of truck drivers. This, in addition to the delays in ports, creates a bottleneck.
“When the cargo arrives, like in a port for example, this container has to be mated to a chassis to roll it on the road and this chassis is often waiting to be unloaded,” said Rick Todd, President and CEO of the South Carolina Trucking Association.
Lee Stuckey owns Stuckey Furniture with two locations in the Lowcountry. He says his stores have seen the direct impacts of the delays.
“Initially they were delayed, not what I would call really bad, but much longer than normal. You know it just kept getting worse, ”Stuckey said.
Items specially ordered from the store take six weeks to ship from their manufacturer in North Carolina. Stuckey says it would normally take five days to a week.
Now the furniture store is decreasing special orders.
“Fortunately, we sell products on the ground and do very few custom orders because people want it now, they don’t want to wait,” Stuckey said.
Experts say start holiday shopping now to avoid late deliveries and rising prices.