BETHESDA, Md.—Tire dealers around the U.S. have been dealing with low tire fill rates from their wholesale suppliers and oftentimes have to scramble to find alternative sources.
It's a problem shared among retailers in nearly all industries as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on shipping and logistics at U.S. ports.
West Coast ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., especially, are experiencing severe congestion due to a surge in shipping volume offset by COVID-related challenges, according to a panel discussion during the Auto Care Association 2021 Business Outlook webinar on Feb. 17.
"To state that we're going through chaos right now is an understatement," said Vinay Mamidi, vice president and general manager at CSF Inc., a manufacturer of vehicle cooling systems.
He said importers are facing several challenges in trying to get products distributed to customers: the lack of empty containers for shipping products; extended sailing time; delays in unloading the ships at the ports; and not enough truck drivers to deliver product to distribution centers.
He noted that the ports have been impacted by pandemic protocols and virus outbreaks among employees, thus reducing the work force available. This extends the time it usually takes to unload a ship and transfer products to waiting delivery trucks.
The delays in unloading has caused a back-up in the shipping lanes as ships wait to be unloaded. Mamidi said in early February there were about 42 ships sitting in the ocean outside Long Beach waiting to be unloaded.