US ports face record backlog ahead of holiday shopping

An increasing number of shipments stuck in the sea Due to supply chain problems, resulting in a growing concern that holiday shipments may not arrive in time. Container ships crowd ports from New York to Los Angeles, with 250,000 containers floating off the coast waiting to be unloaded.

“There’s nowhere to put this cargo. Our berths are full. People need to come pick up their cargo,” said Jane Siroca, CEO of the Port of Los Angeles. “Only half of the truck drivers who are registered to do business here visit us at least once a week. We need more drivers at work.”

But truck driver George Anaya said the port needed to move faster. Anaya had an appointment at 7 p.m. to pick up a load, but he wasn’t able to leave the station until 2 a.m. Before this year, he said he could pick up about 20 loads a week. He said it’s now down to about six.

The Port of Los Angeles has already extended its hours but is not open around the clock like ports in other parts of the world. President Biden said he would like to see the ports operate 24 hours a day.

“You have a lot of supply chain points that have to run on the same schedule,” Siroca said. “If we can open warehouses around the clock, that will be important to us.”

The delay affects business owners such as Maryam El-Hamami, owner of toy store The Game Chest, who said that nearly all of her toys are already on store shelves. “I don’t have anything to replace,” she said.

About 40% of Hamami’s business is based on holiday shopping. “It’s tough for me as a consumer because I’m also going to celebrate Christmas which is tough as a business owner,” she said.

Larger companies, including Walmart, chartered entire ships to deliver goods to less crowded ports. The sheer cost makes it out of the reach of small businesses.

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