U.S., European suppliers scramble to secure Christmas goods as cargo delays worsen By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bernie Thompson of Plugable Technologies holds a docking station that he sells on Amazon.com from his facility in Redmond, Washington, U.S., February 6, 2020. Picture taken February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

By Lisa Baertlein and Jonathan Saul

LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) – Suppliers to Walmart (NYSE:), Target (NYSE:), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:) and different main retailers instructed Reuters they’re putting vacation orders for Chinese-made merchandise weeks earlier this yr, as a worldwide transport backlog threatens to go away many present consumers empty-handed this Christmas purchasing season.  

Reuters surveyed practically a dozen suppliers and retailers of all the pieces from toys to laptop tools within the United States and Europe. All anticipate weeks-long delays in vacation stock resulting from transport bottlenecks, together with a worldwide container scarcity and the current COVID-related closure of the southern Chinese port of Yantian, which serves producers close to Shenzhen.       

The threat for retailers is a rash of out-of-stock gadgets simply as buyers are able to open their wallets to splurge on toys, clothes and different merchandise.

“It’s going to be a major, major mess,” mentioned Isaac Larian, chief government of Los Angeles-based MGA Entertainment Inc, which sells LOL Surprise, Bratz, Little Tikes and different toy manufacturers to Amazon, Walmart and Target.   

His firm has toys caught in a whole bunch of containers on the Yantian port. If he cannot get sufficient stock for his retail shoppers, “it’s going to hurt the Christmas sales big time,” Larian mentioned. 

The transport logjams are resulting from extra than simply the backlog in Yantian, which is taken into account Amazon’s No. 1 Chinese seaport, – accounting for 32.4% of shipments dealt with by the e-commerce firm within the three months to May 31, in response to S&P Global (NYSE:) Market Intelligence’s commerce knowledge agency Panjiva.

While Yantian port reopened on June 24, a scarcity of containers was nonetheless constraining full exercise, globally cargo ships are overbooked, containers are stranded within the incorrect locations, and ports are congested.

Products are piling up on manufacturing facility flooring, in warehouse parking heaps, on seaport docks and at rail yards – threatening extra backups than final yr’s vacation “shipageddon,” when many gadgets arrived after Christmas. 

Amazon and different retailers didn’t reply to requests for remark.


Retailers usually are promoting items as quick as they will carry them in, mentioned Jason Miller, affiliate professor of provide chain administration at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business. 

“Their sales are so high right now that they’re unable to build inventory levels up substantially,” mentioned Miller.

If that torrid clip continues, retailers – excluding auto-related operators – must add about $65.1 billion in inventories to be in the identical pre-holiday inventory-to-sales place they have been in 2019, he mentioned. 

Andy Bond, chief government of Pepco Group, which owns British low cost retailer Poundland, instructed Reuters individually, “it’s definitely a day-to-day challenge and a headache that we are facing.”

Clothing sellers are air freight as an possibility – together with  PVH Corp (NYSE:), which owns the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein manufacturers.

Christmas-themed stock “might be here for Thanksgiving weekend – and it might not be,” mentioned Balsam Hill CEO Mac Harman, who sells high-end synthetic Christmas bushes and different vacation décor. Some of his orders from China could not arrive in time for his July gross sales kickoff – and even by Christmas, he mentioned.

“We’re hundreds of containers behind where we should be at this point,” he mentioned, with at the least 10% fewer merchandise in inventory.

Michael Shah, CEO of British-based Easy Equipment, which provides catering tools throughout the United Kingdom, is racing to carry items in early after already contending with containers held up in China.

“We are already starting to order more stock now knowing that by September-October, we have to be prepared,” Shah mentioned. “It gets busy in the run-up to Christmas with the restaurant trade, and we are having to bite the bullet and try and rush in stock.”

Carly McGinnis, head of manufacturing, gross sales and logistics at Exploding Kittens, needs to ensure main retailers resembling Walmart and Target do not run out of its video games. The Los Angeles-based firm is making extra video games this yr and started transport vacation orders in March, about 4 months sooner than in 2020.

She additionally offers Walmart  and Target the choice to import a few of their very own orders. Because the 2 retailers are among the many prime U.S. importers of containerized items, they could get precedence entry to containers and house on cargo ships.

“I’ve told our investors, and my internal team, something will be out of stock – there will be an issue. I don’t know when and I don’t know what it will be, but it’s certainly going to happen,” McGinnis mentioned.

Meanwhile, Bernie Thompson mentioned he has deserted hope for a vacation restock of laptop computer docking stations and another laptop tools he sells  through Amazon and different retailers. That’s as a result of it may possibly take greater than 12 months to get a few of his top-selling merchandise, which depend on hard-to-find laptop chips.  

“It’s too late for Christmas,” mentioned Thompson, founding father of Washington-based Plugable Technologies.