Christmas at risk as supply chain “disaster” gets worse

From Transport Topics.

It’s the beginning of October, just the start of what the retail world simply calls “peak.” But the industry is already in various forms of panic that usually don’t take hold until the weeks before Christmas.

Early in the year, the hope was that the bottlenecks that gummed up the global supply chain in 2020 would be mostly cleared by now. They’ve actually only gotten worse — much worse — and evidence is mounting that the holiday season is at risk.

Across Europe, retailers such as apparel chain H&M can’t meet demand because of delivery delays. In the U.S., Nike cut its sales forecast after COVID-19 triggered factory closures in Vietnam that wiped out months of production. And Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock plunged amid shipping woes, with CEO Mark Tritton warning that disruptions would last well into next year. “There is pressure across the board, and you will hear about that from others.”

COVID outbreaks have idled port terminals. There still aren’t enough cargo containers, causing prices to spike tenfold from a year ago. Labor shortages have stalled trucking and pushed U.S. job openings to all-time highs. And that was before UPS, Walmart and others embark on hiring hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers to take on the peak of peak.

“I’ve been doing this for 43 years and never seen it this bad,” said Isaac Larian, founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, one of the world’s largest toymakers. “Everything that can go wrong is going wrong at the same time.”

Now comes the rush of goods into the U.S. for Santa’s sleigh, which will only exacerbate all of this. It’s going to be a daunting holiday season — one that investors appear to be shrugging off despite analysts raising concerns that margins will likely take a hit. The S&P Retail Select Industry Index, which encompasses 108 U.S. companies including Amazon, Macy’s and Best Buy, is up about 40% this year and almost doubled since the start of 2020. Its combined market cap is $3.3 trillion, just a sliver below a record high from earlier this year.

See the complete article online at Transport Topics.