Supply chain Grinch
Christmas stock face shortages threat as supply chain disruptions continueWednesday, November 24, 2021
BY KELLARAY MILES
AS global supply chain disruptions continue to affect port and trading activities since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, stakeholders have said that these challenges could lead to shortages in a number of goods and supplies this Christmas.
This, as goods that probably should have showed up months ago remains tied up at factories, ports and warehouses around the globe as they wait for shipping containers and planes to get them to their respective destinations. Consequently, Christmas, which is often marked as a busy shopping period and gift-giving season, could this year be marked by scarcity of a number of high-demanded items.
Head of one of the country's main port terminals, Mark Williams, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL), speaking with the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview on Monday said that a shortage in some items on the market will definitely affect the quality of Christmas for several consumers.
“Outside of car chip shortages on the commercial side, toys and electronics are among some of the main cargo items which consumers will not be getting a lot of this Christmas. The kids in particular will not be too happy about this so it will not be Christmas as usual,” he told the Business Observer.
Williams noted that while operations at the local port remained agile and resilient, securing access to some overseas supplies has become challenging for consumers in their quest to source desired products.
“You just physically can't get the goods, they're not on the shelves and they're not in the manufacturing warehouses overseas. So what we're now seeing is a situation where you can't get the goods, and in instances where you can, there are issues in getting containers to pack those goods. When you're over that hurdle there are also other issues in getting a port that will facilitate the movement of getting that container out quickly,” he said in highlighting some of the current challenges further compounded by unstable freight costs.
“Certainly Christmas will not be the same [when compared to other years] as issues within the supply chain continue to negatively affect shipping activities. The port of Los Angeles, for example does not operate 24 hours, but our port in Kingston does, so this in turn will add to that bottleneck of not getting containers from those locations in a timely manner,” he added.
Williams, however, said that in light of the current challenges which experts believe may not begin to ease until the middle of next year, KWL has sought to implement systems geared toward creating greater efficiency, along with 24-hour work schedules aimed at helping customers to get their supplies early.
“We have put certain measures in place to expedite the clearance of cargo for the Christmas season, especially for our commercial cargo customers who need the goods for their shelves. For our barrel cargo customers, we have launched our digital service portal Click N' Collect which allows for online processing and pickups,” Williams stated whilst urging customers to arrange clearance and pickups early to avoid congestion and delays.
President of Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) John Mahfood, in confirming reports of some shortages within the productive sector, said that these were not expected to threaten the availability of bulk food items such as rice, sugar, flour or even poultry and other items needed for holiday preparations.
He said that while there were reports of shortages in some areas coupled with the inability of some manufacturers and distributors to make consistent and complete deliveries, he believes these will be short-lived, having only a slight impact on the sector.
“As a result of the disruptions it's probably best people try to shop earlier and not wait until the last minute to get the things they need for Christmas,” he however advised.