Clogged cargo ships on the coasts: What it could mean for holiday shopping

Economy

"Every possible thing that can go wrong, has gone wrong”

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Since COVID hit, many things have been tightening up, including warehouse availability, employment, and transportation capacity.

At the same time, pricing is going up on almost everything. Steven Carnovale, a supply chain professor at RIT, says it’s the perfect storm. 

“All of these things mixed together, and it’s like every possible thing…It’s like Murphy’s Law for supply chain. Every possible thing that can go wrong, has gone wrong,” Carnovale said.

Coastal shipping ports across the country, from Georgia to California and others, are clogged up. Off-load is slow, and there’s a shortage of truckers to transport goods. If that wasn’t enough, trains are also running slow. 

“Every area where we had any excess capacity or buffer to withstand a disruption has been basically eliminated,” Carnovale said.

As we enter the Christmas season, Carnovale says this could have a ripple effect on holidays shopping.

“People are looking all across the board to get stuff early. So why are consumers doing it? Everybody’s worried they’re not going to be able to get anything,” Carnovale said.

He says the big things that could be in short supply are electronics, many made overseas. 

“Gaming systems, a laptop, high-tech products…I would be on the lookout now,” Carnovale said. “If everybody just breathes…and doesn’t tax the system, that’s how the system operates.”

If all else fails and you have nothing to give this holiday season, he says you can’t beat one thing. “I would say give everybody cash because it’s easier,” Carnovale said with a chuckle.

Carnovale says many might go the ‘online marketplace’ route to find goods in short supply. He reminds all if you do, be sure to exchange goods safely and be aware of scams. 

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