HGV shortages: 'Buy early for Christmas' advises expert
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Former BBC Veteran Andrew Neil highlighted this on Twitter yesterday, writing: “Major problems with US supply chains cause a massive build-up of container ships off Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Predictions of Christmas shortages in shops.” Neil’s tweet was shortly retweeted by pro-Brexit Twitter account @Stop_the_EU which mocked Remainers who blamed Brexit for the shortages.
The account tweeted: “Bloody #Brexit.”
Like the UK, America has been facing severe supply chain issues with shortages crossing multiple industries.
From medical supplies and electronics to Burger King French fries, US consumers have faced empty shelves and delayed imports.
As the US economy rebounds after the pandemic, surging demand for imports has led to massive delays – as the shipping industry struggles to catch up.
Volume at the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere – is currently up by more than 30 percent so far this year.
In September, the port complex had a record number of cargo ships were left waiting to be unloaded.
Sixty container vessels were held at anchor or adrift.
Before the pandemic, it was unusual for more than one ship to be in the queue to unload.
Gene Soreka, executive director at the port complex, told Reuters that “disruptions continue at every node in the supply chain.”
Major US retail giants have resorted to chartering their own vessels in an attempt to survive the global supply chain disruptions that threaten to cripple the retail industry’s most important season.
Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Costco and Dollar Tree have all said they will be chartering their own ships.
But Joe Metzger, US executive vice president of supply-chain operations at Walmart, told Reuters that chartering vessels “is just one example” of investments the store has made to “move products as quickly as possible.”
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Meanwhile, in the UK, Remainers have looked to Brexit to explain the issues.
A recent poll by YouGov revealed 65 percent of Remainers blamed Brexit for the supply chain problems, compared to just 21 percent of those who voted Leave in 2016.
Like US consumers, UK shoppers have been faced with empty supermarket shelves and queues for petrol, as job vacancies increase to record highs.
Between July and September 2021, vacancies were more than 1.1m – an increase of nearly 318k from pre-pandemic levels. This marks the second consecutive month the average number of vacancies has risen over one million.
The UK Government has argued that these issues are a lingering result of the pandemic – and not a result of Brexit.
After the petrol crisis came to a head in September, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps dismissed concerns over Brexit, saying the Covid-19 pandemic was the “main reason” for the shortages.
But a report from financial advisory firm Grant Thornton revealed that, since the start of the pandemic, 1.3 million foreign born workers have left the UK.
“These shortages are placing huge pressure on the sector and there is a very real chance that they could quickly reach breaking point”, the report said.
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