Walmart Navy sails around traffic jams

Before Covid, it was rare to see more than one ship lined up at America’s biggest port complex, the Los Angeles and Long Beach terminal. As of today, there are over 60 of them, filled with billions worth of toys, furniture, and home electronics. The traffic’s almost as nightmarish as the I-405.

Now, the nautical logjam has gotten so bad that big box retailers are chartering their own ships to get around the lines in time for the holiday shopping season…

Incoming cargo at the Port of Los Angeles — which sees half of all U.S. imports — is up 30% from record levels set last year. Cue the long line of boats stacked with so much stuff that trucks and trains can’t move the goods out fast enough to make a dent in the bottleneck. Now big retailers are taking matters into their own hands:

Walmart has chartered a grain cargo ship, stuffed it full of toys and consumer goods, and sent it away from the LA Port to a nearby cargo dock, Reuters reported Thursday. Home Depot sent its own vessel loaded with Halloween and Christmas decorations to San Diego. Target, Costco, Ikea, and Dollar Tree are also getting on board the boat-chartering trend.

Traffic managers get paid to come up with solutions for problems like this. Which – BTW – are considered “good problems”. Lots better than sitting around like Congress wondering what can we do to justify our paychecks?

3 thoughts on “Walmart Navy sails around traffic jams

  1. p/s says:

    “The chaos in container shipping has forced some brands like Home Depot, Ikea and Costco to get creative with their supply chains. We can now add The Coca-Cola Company to the list.
    According to Alan Smith, a Procurement Director of Global Logistics at the beverage giant, the shortage of shipping containers and space on ships has had the company thinking outside the box (or containers) for its supply chain.
    In a social media post, Smith revealed the company loaded 3 bulk carriers last week with 60,000 tonnes of materials to keep productions lines running across the world. This is equivalent of 2,800 TEU [cargo containers] that would have been shipped on containerships, Smith said.”

  2. Ahoy says:

    Japanese ocean carrier Ocean Network Express (ONE) said it now expects a net profit of nearly $12bn for its financial year ending 31 March 2022, following a $3.5bn surplus the year before.
    ONE posted a profit of $4.2bn for its second quarter, for an H1 result of $6.76bn, but said although cargo demand was still strong, it expected some “volume decrease” around Chinese New Year and anticipates $5bn of profit for H2.
    Revenue for Q2 was $7.6bn, up 125% on the year before, from just a 4% increase in liftings, to 3.2m teu, for an average rate of $2,375 per teu. This compares with $1,032 per teu previously.
    Apart from a quarter-on-quarter 65% hike in bunker costs, to $509 per ton, ONE said its operational costs had increased “due to faster vessel speeds”.
    Carriers are gradually completing their relatively low-rated contract commitments and replacing them with much higher and longer-term agreements, which, together with a short-term business that remains highly elevated, is working straight to their bottom line results.
    It follows that even the recently upgraded $150bn 2021 profit prediction by maritime consultant Drewry could yet prove conservative.

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