Retailers Charter Extra Ships To Beat Christmas Shortages

Retailers such as John Lewis have chartered a fleet of extra ships to try and get ahead of the mounting disruption in the logistics industry. Amid warnings that parents would not be able to buy the presents their children asked for this year, businesses are acting now to try and fulfil seasonal demand, the BBC reports.

A shortage of shipping containers, delays at ports, and a lack of lorry drivers have combined to create a very difficult climate for retailers this year. John Lewis, which owns 34 department stores and 331 Waitrose supermarkets, as well as an online service, is anticipating strong demand at Christmas, and is taking decisive action.

The chair, Sharon White, told the BBC: “We’ve raised wages for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and we’re really beginning to see the results of that. We’re acting at every single part in the supply chain to ensure that Christmas is saved this year. Our customers hopefully won’t see anything. We’re on track. But so far, we don’t see any significant problems.”

John Lewis is not the only retailer to take extra measures this year. US chains Walmart and Home Depot, and Swedish furniture company Ikea, have purchased their own shipping containers and chartered ships independently to try and stay ahead of demand.

Despite the giant capacity of modern cargo vessels, it seems that the pandemic has created an inexhaustible demand for goods that is leaving businesses struggling to keep up. The answer is not as simple as building bigger ships either, as they need more infrastructure to support them, such as larger ports, giant cranes, and other logistic resources.

The end result may be that companies will start to source parts closer to home, rather than rely on supplies being shipped from halfway around the world, and perhaps also a change in consumer habits.

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