California traffic jams are legendary, but this one is one for the books.
A record 62 cargo ships waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and are stranded floating off the coast amid a severe supply chain crisis that could mean fewer toys under the Christmas tree this year.
The problem reflects a combination of increasing freight volumes, a labor shortage and COVID-related safety measures that are slowing the handling of each vessel. About a third of all imports to the United States pass through ports each year.
The Port of Long Beach has broken monthly records for the amount of cargo crossed in 12 of the past 13 months, with 32% more cargo handled this year than in 2020, according to the trade publication Supply Chain Dive. Safeguards at port while freighters wait for berths have been common throughout the year and only increased with the arrival of the peak shipping season of the fall.
Ships are also retreating at other ports across the country, Bloomberg reported, as it takes longer to move containers from ships to trains and trucks. A shortage of truck drivers to pick up and drop off the 20 and 40 foot steel crates compounds the problem.
The supply chain problem is leading stores like Costco to limit purchases of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and even forced Nike to lower its sales expectations for the year after reporting a rare shortfall in sales at the during the summer.