Start holiday shopping now: global shipping delays expected to worsen during peak retail season

Consumer Report

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Experts say international shipping delays could cause problems this holiday season. The supply chain has been backed up for months as a result of the pandemic and peak retail season is coming.

It comes down to a shortage of workers in several industries along with high demand for products.

Retail therapy has become a source of comfort 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 cargo ships or truck drivers to transport cargo from ports to their final destinations.

“The South Carolina Ports Authority did not know what to expect going into the pandemic so we did not hire last year,” explained Kelsi Brewer with SC Ports.

Now, SC Ports is hiring 150 people on the operations side to try and meet the demand and speed up the process.

“A lot of the hiring that we are doing is in operation. That’s the cargo handlers, the crane operators, everyone that moves the cargo to and from ships or in the yard. That’s a lot of the positions that we’re hiring for at the port,” said Brewer.

A shortage of truck drivers is another factor disrupting the supply chain. That on top of delays at ports are creating the bottle neck.

“When cargo comes in, like to a port for example, that container has to be married to a chassi to roll it down the road and that chassi is often times waiting to be unloaded,” said Rick Todd, the 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 direct impacts of the delays.

“Initially, they were delayed, not what I’d call real bad, but a lot longer than normal. Ya know, it’s continued to get worse and worse,” said Stuckey.

Specially ordered items from the shop are taking six weeks to ship from their manufacturer in North Carolina. Stuckey says normally that would take five days to a week.

Now, the furtniture store is decreasing special orders.

“Fortunately, we sell off the floor and do very little special orders because people want it now, they don’t want to wait,” said Stuckey.

Experts say start holiday shopping now to avoid late deliveries and increased prices.

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