by Robbie Owens | CBS 11
ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Despite White House plans to clear the backlog of container ships idling at the nation’s ports, many North Texas retailers fear the supply chain fix won’t come fast enough.
“Christmas for our country is just huge! I mean, this is the quarter whether people either make it or break it, for the vast majority of businesses,” says David Hanson, owner of Decorator’s Warehouse in Arlington. “I think there will be an awful lot of businesses that will not be here first quarter, second quarter next year. You just can’t make it if you don’t have the product to sell and this is the time of year to be selling it.”
Call it intuition or decades of experience, Hanson says he placed orders extra early this year and was almost fully stocked: until word started to spread of supply chain chaos.
That’s driving more first-time customers to Hanson’s store when they’re unable to find sought after items at more familiar locations.
“The demand is literally off the charts this year,” shares Hanson. “So, we’re not able to keep up with it. We’ve already sold out of a lot of things.”
With container ships still sitting in ports, Hanson says the economic implications are huge– across industries.
Chip shortages have slowed production of new cars.
Dallas ISD has altered its school meal menu– serving more finger foods and less cereal and items that require plastic cutlery.
Everything from plumbing and appliance parts to plastic and glass containers included in reported shortages. And some experts say the problem won’t be solved just by getting the ships onto dry ground– products still need to make it across country.
“Covid exacerbated a challenge that we already had,” says Sherman Barnes, Founder of AskTheTransporter, “which was a driver shortage challenge.”
Barnes is a logistics broker– one of the middlemen working to get products from those backlogged ports to customers. He says the accompanying trucking crisis has been coming for a while.
“We need to do a better job of marketing truck driving and supply chain logistics as a industry,” says Barnes, “that’s starting to happen, but it needs to happen more.”
Long term, Barnes says higher wages– already first year truck drivers can earn $60,000 a year and six figure salaries are common for experienced drivers– and lowering the current 21-year-old age requirement for commercial drivers could help drive more people into the industry. But until those fixes happen, shortages should be expected in just about everything– from electronics to packaging to decor. And yes, expect to pay more for the items that arrive.
“We’ve tried to eat a lot of that, but there’s just no way around it: my freight sometimes exceeds the cost of the goods in the container,” explains Hanson. “Freight has gone from $5,000 a container to $30,000. That’s a 600% increase in freight right now.” Then, pointing to a pastel, life sized nutcracker,” some of the bigger items… my freight is $380 just to ship that. So, you’re not going to see a lot of big items like this– they don’t make sense to buy and ship in. They’re too expensive.”
Still, shoppers are advised to not tarry if they see something they want.
“You’ve heard this before,” shares Hanson, “you’d better get out and get it because it won’t be here for the full length of the season.”