CAI International Blog

Ports, Supply Chain, and Black Friday, Oh My!


Even as consumers continue to see shortages of goods in stores, articles about the holiday supply chain crisis remain abundant, bringing container shipping to the forefront of current events like never before. As we attempt to creatively handle the gifting season, let’s review some of the issues that precede Black Friday in a year filled with unprecedented transportation dynamics.

The main news event is port congestion, with the executive office of the President of the United States recently intervening to lift restrictions, thus allowing ports to operate twenty-four hours a day. Port workers are overextended, and truck drivers are few. Big box retailers are chartering their own ships to ensure they have supply for the biggest shopping day of the year. Meanwhile, the labor market remains in flux, causing brick and mortar stores to begin hiring seasonal workers sooner than planned. Between labor and product volatility, keeping the shelves stocked as product moves out the door remains a challenge.

News sources predict shortages in toys, electronics, and books. With just in time logistics dramatically disrupted, a trend to watch is retailers gearing promotions toward what they have in hand versus what is desired by consumers. TV and electronic purchases may be affected in most of the US. Thanksgiving evening may look different in 2021 with many stores remaining closed. With less desirable door busters likely on Black Friday, shoppers may opt for hot cocoa and It’s a Wonderful Life at home rather than standing in lines in the November cold.

As Black Friday approaches, lingering container saturation issues persist, and the influx of loaded container ships indicate container shortages may continue well into 2022. As we look to the year ahead, remember that CAI is always focused on containers, the shipping industry, and our customers. We look forward to new ways of moving your business forward.