Supply chain issues continue as holiday shopping gets underway

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 9:50 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The hunt for the perfect gift will officially begin this Friday.

But that flat-screen TV or laptop may be sitting at one of the country’s many ports waiting to be unloaded, or worse, it hasn’t left its original destination, such as China.

“Our small company, we have about 800 containers sitting at the port of Shenzhen waiting on a vessel, and they’ve been there for a couple of weeks. So, it’s backed up on their side of the ocean as well,” said Neely Mallory, president of Memphis-based Mallory Alexander International Logistics.

He says not only is it difficult to get products out of the ports, it hits another stumbling block.

There is a serious shortage of intermodal equipment used to transfer goods from trains to trucks, known as chassis.

“Once a container gets here at the railhead, it needs to be loaded on a chassie so a truck can take it to a distribution center or to a retail store,” Mallory said.

Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced the Improving Memphis Supply Chain Act, which would create a so-called gray pool of chassis in Memphis, significantly increasing the inventory of the vital equipment.

The legislation wouldn’t help the supply chain crisis in time for the holidays. However, the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, says it’s ready.

“Our team has been extremely creative the last few months in figuring out how to manage some of the shortages and congestion in the supply chain. Our inventory was up over 11 percent at the end of the quarter,” said Walmart CEO John Furner.

Furner says they have chartered their own ships to bring in goods from overseas.

NBC News reports Target and Costco did the same thing.

However, smaller retailers and companies are at the mercy of the supply chain crisis.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee along with 14 other governors launched Operation Open Road, which is a push for the Biden administration to address what they call “burdensome regulations” within the supply chain.

Lee wants the president to address the truck driver shortage by lowering the age for receiving a commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18 years old, ending the federal mandate for vaccines, and stopping spending that will raise taxes and slow down the recovery of the economy.

If your goal is to get the perfect gift in time for Christmas, Mallory has this advice.

“I would urge you to go to your local retailer or go online as soon as possible and hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to find what you’re looking for,” said Mallory.

Lee also vows to take some executive action on the state level as well such as modifying weight load restrictions to allow more cargo to move.

Mallory says the shipping backlog could last until fall 2022.

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