#85 – Inside Our Industry – Inflation, Port Congestion, and Normalcy

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Inflation, Port Congestion, and Normalcy

It’s no secret that consumer prices are rising, with no relief in sight.

On an annual basis, 2021 still saw the fastest price inflation since the early 1980s, as broken supply chains collided with high consumer demand for used cars and construction materials alike. Higher prices seeped into just about everything households and businesses buy, raising alarms for policymakers at the Federal Reserve and White House that inflation has spread throughout the economy. (Washington Post)

As the country (and the world) seek to emerge from the pandemic, consumer demand is expected to remain high. The supply of consumer goods to meet that demand is often sitting just off a U.S. coast. Port congestion, which has plagued the west coast, especially the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is now spreading to other west coast locations, such as the Ports of Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma. And now, east coast ports are seeing a rise in backups.

From the Wall Street Journal on January 28, 2022:

The average wait time for a berth at the busiest East Coast gateway, the Port of New York and New Jersey, extended to 4.2 days last week, according to the port’s data, up from 1.6 days last January. At the Port of Charleston on Thursday, a backup of 19 container ships was waiting offshore for a berth.

New Jersey port officials say its congestion is being caused, in part, by Covid-19-related worker absences. Charleston officials say their backup is mainly due to a surge of imports that has clogged terminals, leaving limited space to unload inbound containers.

The number of containers waiting more than 15 days for pickup at Charleston, the country’s eighth-largest gateway for container imports, exceeded 7,000 boxes last week, an increase of 40% compared with one month earlier, according to supply-chain analytics firm project44. Charleston officials say it could take six weeks to clear the backlog.

We are anxious to put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror. While we aren’t sure what “normal” is anymore, we are looking forward to its return!