“Merchandise that isn’t in distribution centers now — or within the next month or so — is not going to be available to purchase for the Christmas season,” predicts Tom Heimgartner, a trucking operator in Port Newark, who says cargo is backing up at U.S. ports and clogging distribution centers in a monumental transportation traffic jam. Supply-chain experts blame shortages of everything from shipping containers to port workers and truck drivers, who can make more money working for Amazon.
Despite a container shortage, mountains of empty boxes take up valuable space at the port because it’s cheaper than returning them. Shipping rates from Asia soared seven to ten times higher since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. One analyst predicted. “If it’s on a ship, it’s delayed. It’s going to be expensive. That’s the bottom line.”