OAKLAND, Calif. - If COVID weren't enough of a worldwide problem, something called the supply chain has been hit just as hard and you're paying for it.
In fact, all of it is all driven by unprecedented, relentless consumer demand. The container ships anchored among the many tankers south of the Bay Bridge, plus several more circling at sea; all awaiting a Port of Oakland berth to load and unload their containers.
This is a worsening worldwide problem which is resulting in higher prices and product shortages.
Consider Speisekammer, a famous Alameda German restaurant; famous for it's varied and many German made beers.
"We've been having to change our beer list, every week. I mean it's never been the same. We don't have any of our old reliables. We just have to find what we can get,: said the restaurant's owner Cindy Kahl. That goes for her many other German products, all shipped on containers, plus wines from an array of countries. "Octoberfest coming up too, I don't even know what if they're gonna have enough beer for that," said Ms. Kahl.
Mike Jacob is an executive with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, representing the ocean carriers serving the west coast. "We have vessels, containers, equipment, trucks, trains, you name it, across the international supply chain all scrambled, all in the wrong place and all trying to deal with an overwhelming surge in demand," said Mr. Jacob.
In some places, shipping costs have doubled and tripled. This has already gone on for a year without getting better. "We aren't filling orders and we aren't shipping as much as we could because of the congestions and because of tie ups in equipment," said Jacob.
This very could well affect availability and the price of things for back-to-school, Halloween and, yes, the holiday season.
"That is definitely going to happen this year. We already know that we're expecting to have additional congestion," said Jacob.
GSC Logistics is a major port to retailer shipper. "And where it really comes into play is, you know, there may be stock outs or there may not be the right size, your size in particular that you have of the color that you're looking for," said Mr. Arsenault.
His advice to consumers, "It would be prudent to allow a little more lead time when you are ordering your products this year for back-to-school or Christmas." So, shop early-in store or online.