(WHTM) — The supply chain issue is really causing headaches during the holiday shopping season. Just how big of a problem is this, and more importantly, what is being done about it?
“We are truly in a black swan event in that never have I ever seen a crisis like the crisis we’re seeing today,” said John Drake, vice president of supply chain policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce. This is not a problem he takes lightly.
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“We’ve got a glut of containers and goods that are sitting in our ports, and we don’t have the workers, the truckers, the railroads, etc. to move everything to where they need to go,” Drake said.
The slowdown is affecting everything this holiday shopping season. Why exactly is it happening? Drake blames two things: consumer spending is up, but the number of workers is down.
Drake said there are “80,000 openings for truck drivers right now, and until we get those jobs filled, it’s going to take us a little bit longer to get the goods that are coming into our ports to where they ultimately need to go.”
This crisis is having a big impact on small businesses. For example, just a few months ago, it cost $3,000 to ship a container filled with goods from China to the U.S. Today, shipping the same container costs $30,000.
“Those containers might not have more than $30,000-40,000 worth of goods in them. You know that these small and medium-sized businesses are losing money every time that they’re trying to serve their customers…and that’s a big reason you’re seeing these price increases happening across the board because these businesses are struggling to figure out ways to make up the difference,” Drake said.
What could be done to alleviate this problem?
“What we’ve appreciated the Biden administration to do right now is they’ve tried to convene everybody, to bring them to the table and work in a good faith effort to fix this,” Drake said. “There’s no easy solutions, this is not going to be changed overnight, it’s not going to be fixed overnight, but I think the number one thing that we should be focused on is figuring out how to make our ports work better.”
Forty percent of all the goods that come into the U.S. go into just two ports — Los Angeles and Long Beach. Drake says there are hundreds of ports all over the world that do a better job, and the U.S. needs to address this quickly.
“There’s a saying in Washington: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ If we don’t take advantage of this and try to fix some of the problems that got us here, then we’ve really wasted this opportunity,” Drake said.
It will not be a quick fix, though. Drake says this supply chain crisis will last well past the holiday shopping season, deep into next year and maybe even beyond.