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Near-Record Imports Likely to Continue Clogging Container Ports Through Holidays

The imports at strained container ports are likely to remain at almost record levels through the end of the year as retailers brace for holiday shopping, according to a press release from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

There were over 70 ships reported waiting at the dock of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last week, the release stated. The wait at Los Angeles has been two weeks on average in the past month.

Because of the delays, the vessels’ arrival at other ports could also be delayed, according to the release. Some carriers have plans to divert to other locations, but congestion remains the law of the land.

“Dockworkers are unloading ships as fast as they can, but the challenge is to move the containers out of the ports to make room for the next ship,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in the release.

He added that there is a need for more empty return procedures and chassis, more truck drivers and better rail capacity and warehouse workers to bolster the system.

“Retailers have enough inventory on hand to make sure shoppers won’t go home empty-handed this holiday season,” he said in the release. “But there are still items sitting on the docks or waiting on ships that need to make it to store shelves and online sellers’ warehouses. Retailers want to make sure customers have product choices.”

Last month, the National Retail Federation predicted 8.5% to 10.5% growth in retail sales in November and December compared to the same time a year ago, with projections ranging from $843.4 billion to $859 billion across the U.S. during the holiday shopping season.

Read more: NRF Says Holiday Retail Sales Will Set Records

Consumers set the previous record for holiday shopping last year when they spent $777.3 billion, up 8.2% from 2019. The increase has averaged 4.4% in the last five years.

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