During the past year, there have been numerous disruptions to the flow of commerce in and out of the United States, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest is the impact on truck availability at our nation’s ports. With the long lines and lack of equipment, it is not unusual for a trucker to wait all day for a container, only to leave empty handed. Trucking companies are having a difficult time incentivizing drivers, when each load is taking 2 and 3 times longer to complete. “My driver has been in line since 7am, and he still isn’t loaded, I’m sorry but port congestion wait time will have to apply to your invoice,” says one long-term dray provider for Noatum Logistics, after his driver waited 8 hours for a load. Despite long wait times and lack of equipment, the need for drivers to move containers is higher than ever. The National Retail Federation (NFR) is predicting 2021 to be another banner year for retail sales as the rise in vaccines allows consumer to get out of the house.
“The pandemic is causing logistics problems beyond the congestion at the ports. With an increase in consumer spending and a depleted work force, due to covid ‘the supply chain is facing challenges to find enough workers for goods distribution,’” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. The demand for imports, driven by consumer spending is not stopping anytime soon, NRF Forecasts Retail Sales to Exceed $4.33T in 2021 as vaccine rollout expands.
The backlog at the port and shortage of skilled drivers is leading to an unprecedented increase in trucking costs in the United States. Companies are forced to raise driver pay to compensate for long wait times which in term leads to steep rate increases. In major ports, like NY/LA, rates have nearly doubled in the last 6 months. Logistics companies are working around the clock to pre-dispatch loads and keep shipments moving as much as possible. It is imperative that shippers work closely with their logistics partners to discuss options, as the trucking situation is predicted to only get worse.