Holidays Worsen Supply Chain Backup

Katelyn Timple, News Editor

   As a result of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the surplus of online orders combined with a worldwide shortage of transport services has caused a global supply chain backup.

   Because of COVID-19 regulations and concerns about safety, product making factories overseas were shut down. Manufacturing workers were at risk of exposure because of distance between workers, duration and type of contact, and some unique factors like shared transportation (

   According to United Nations trade and development experts, the e-commerce sector saw a rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 percent to 19 percent in 2020. This correlates with COVID-19 since people, quarantined in their homes, shopped online more than ever (

   Even if products do make it overseas, some of these ships aren’t able to unload the shipping containers onto land. Many ports around the world have multiple ships anchored, waiting to dock and be unloaded. According to National Public Radio’s John Burnett, the Port of Los Angeles had at one point almost a hundred ships parked in San Pedro Bay (

   According to the President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations Chris Spear, the trucking industry is short 80,000 truck drivers. President Biden instructed the major backed up ports to continue working 24/7, but the absence of necessary truck drivers hinders that effort (

   Burnett said, “The overseas factory has to produce, the container ship has to transport, the port has to receive, the truck has to deliver. The warehouse has to store, and the retailer has to get it to the customer. This is like an orchestra; it’s all finely tuned, and everybody’s got to play when their part comes up in the symphony.”

   The Port of Houston’s Chief Operating Officer Randall Morris continued, “Correct, and if one piece falls off — like, let’s say, the maestro increased the tempo, and no one’s ready for it, it all falls apart. That’s essentially what happened” (

  With the upcoming gift-giving season and the increase in online-shopping associated with it, the backup is expected to get worse.   English Teacher Richard Frink said, “I think it’s gonna hurt the holiday season and people trying to make a living that rely on the supplies. Personally, it forced my wife and I to buy presents for our family early, knowing some things might not be available. I think it affects anybody in the retail business. We have the mall up the street. I’m sure they’re impacted.”

   Frink added, “I think they need to look into hiring more people that can work in the shipping and receiving industry. So maybe hire more truck drivers that work at a fair wage and that can be easily trained.”