Australians have been warned to get their Christmas shopping done early this year to avoid missing out, following freight disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2020-21, warns exporters are struggling to meet their delivery obligations, and some large retailers are so concerned that goods will not arrive before the busy Christmas period they are buying their own shipping containers and chartering their own vessels in order to get stock on the shelves.
According to the ACCC, only 10 per cent of vessels arrived in their designated berth windows in 2020-21, which is their lowest rate on record.
The COVID-19 pandemic has destabilised the global container freight supply chain. Delayed shipments and rapidly rising freight rates are putting intense pressure on Australian exporters and importers. Read our full Stevedoring Report here: https://t.co/82siW9VJ4X pic.twitter.com/MRcxA4cMWw
— ACCC (@acccgovau) November 3, 2021
ACCC chair Rod Sims said, “Australian importers and exporters are being squeezed,” causing congestion to the global supply chain. “International shipping line movements normally run lean and just-in-time, but a surge in demand and Covid-19 outbreaks that have forced numerous port operations to temporarily shut down have caused congestion and delays with a cascading effect across the globe,” he said.
“Pre-pandemic, the sector would have likely been able to manage such a surge in containerised demand, but the simultaneous destabilisation of almost every part of the supply chain has left them without any spare capacity and struggling to cope.”
It’s not just international delivery that is affected, the transportation of goods locally has been disrupted by border closures, unprecedented demand for online goods, and industrial action.
Deakin University director of the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, Dr Hermione Parsons, said, “Border closures create a backlog … And every time there’s a backlog, it takes time to catch up.”
Australia Post recently released their Christmas delivery dates but warned Australians to send gifts “as early as possible” to avoid delays.
CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, Paul Zahra, also warned consumers not to “leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute”. “The key message for consumers is to be prepared,” he said. “These supply-chain issues are likely to be with us right through to Christmas, so consumers should consider shopping early to avoid disappointment.”
Global supply chains operations are expected to be restored once the fallout from the pandemic ceases.