Global Shipping Disruption Could Cause Christmas Delays

Shipping industry experts are warning that the ongoing disruption to the global container market could lead to disruption for Christmas shoppers. The BBC reports that the crisis is showing no sign of being resolved quickly, and delays to supply chains will soon have a knock-on effect later this year.

An unprecedented combination of setbacks has led to a series of delays and congestion, which has caused rising frustration around the world. The latest issue is a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 in Guangdong province in Southern China, which has delayed shipments and congested the region’s ports, such as Yantain, Nansha, and even Hong Kong.

Shipping companies are already trying to recalibrate their services after the huge disruption caused by the pandemic in 2020, followed by the backlog triggered by the Suez Canal blockage in March. The giant containership Evergreen became lodged for six days in the busy shipping route, and as a result global trade was severely disrupted.

James Baker, containers editor at shipping industry publication, Lloyd’s List, told the BBC that although the shipping industry is resilient in the face of emergencies, the overload is nearing breaking point at the moment. He explains that UK retailers begin to acquire Christmas stock from China several months in advance.

Mr Baker commented: “Traditionally, the peak season for container shipping starts in the third quarter as everyone stocks up for the holiday season in the west, but this year we’re just in a permanent peak season already, and heaven knows what’s going to happen come August or September. It could get crazy. It’s very hard to tell.”

Baker also advised Christmas fans to begin looking around for gifts and supplies as soon as possible, because no one could accurately predict what the supply chain situation will be like in a few months’ time.

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